House committee hears sponsor testimony on HB45 (Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fixes)

Representative Danny Bubp and Terry Johnson presented sponsor testimony for HB45 to the House Committee on State Government and Elections, chaired by Rob Mecklenborg. Representatives from Buckeye Firearms Association and the NRA were on hand and were joined by many interested media and citizens. Toby Hoover from the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence was also on hand.

From the Gongwer News Service:

After trying unsuccessfully at the end of last session to force a House vote on a concealed carry measure, Rep. Danny Bubp (R-West Union) resurrected the matter in his own bill Tuesday.

Rep. Bubp and Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) provided sponsor testimony before the House State Government & Elections Committee on legislation (HB 45) that is a reintroduction of a bill from last session (SB239, 128th General Assembly).

The Republican was successful in initiating a discharge procedure to bring that bill out of committee in December, but House rules required a two-day layover following the discharge vote, which was held on the last day of session. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, December 7, 2010)

The legislation would allow concealed carry licensees to take their weapons into establishments that serve alcohol so long as they do not consume alcohol. Businesses would still be able to post notices that guns are not allowed on the premises, with which licensees would have to abide.

Ohio is one of only six states out of 48 that issue concealed carry licenses that prohibit this activity, Rep. Bubp said.

Additionally the bill would remove storage mandates for keeping firearms in vehicles. At present a weapon must be in a holster, closed glove compartment, locked case or purse kept in plain sight, Mr. Johnson said.

"Today a licensee can enter a Cracker Barrel or a McDonald's and enjoy lunch or dinner without breaking any laws or leaving their firearm in a vehicle to be stolen," Rep. Bubp said.

The article goes on to provide details as to some of the questions the committee asked of the sponsors:

Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren) asked if the sponsors know of any instances when a weapon has been stolen from a vehicle. Rep. Bubp said he did, and Rep. Johnson said the matter is of great concern to concealed carry licensees.

The National Rifle Association, Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry support the bill, but Rep. Letson asked where law enforcement agencies stand. Rep. Bubp said those agencies historically have been opposed to the bill, but he continues to have conversations with them.

"The people that have concealed carry permits, those individuals are the most law-abiding people in our society today," he said. "And I know that if I were in a tough spot as a police officer I would hope and pray that somebody with that permit would be help me out."

Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) asked how "under the influence of alcohol" is defined in the legislation.
"When you say 'under the influence of alcohol,' that's a pretty wide range without being very specific as to what that means," he said.

Rep. Bubp said the bill says one cannot "have been drinking" and carrying a weapon. He said he does not know that the bill needs clarification. Current Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated laws make any intoxication above 0.08 irrefutable but drivers can still be charged under that level.

"The common sense approach is zero tolerance, no alcohol," he said. "You don't need to mix alcohol with weapons, period. And so if you've been drinking and you've got that weapon on you, not only would it be in violation of law, it would be stupid, too."

Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) said he struggles to understand why the gun owner's convenience is more important than public safety.

"Why not inconvenience the owner, permit carrier and side with the safety of the people who are there in the open air arenas and the corner establishments in my district and the police officers who often find themselves in harm's way," he said.

Rep. Johnson said he does not think it is a matter of convenience for a person to defend himself and his family.

Rep. Patmon said the recent event in Arizona involving the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has shown that "the only protection from getting shot is no guns."

Rep. Bubp said, "that would be the perfect, ideal society, but Representative, we live in a society that that is not the situation."

Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine reported that the sponsors also received questions from committee members regarding the ability of businesses to ban firearms, and members were told these businesses can put up a sign notifying people that guns are not permitted on premises, the same as every other business under current law.

A question was asked about franchise restaurants where one posts a sign and another does not. The answer was that concealed handgun licensees may carry in the unposted one, but not in the posted one.

With regard to Rep. Letson's question about examples of guns being stolen out of cars in restaurants, Irvine notes that Bubp's affirmative answer was correct, and that there was testimony on topic before a Senate committee last session.

Also from Irvine's report of the meeting:

Rep. Kathleen Clyde asked questions about current and proposed changes regarding traffic stops for license holders.

Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) was having a hard time understanding the reason for the bill. He seemed to have concerns about carrying guns in places that serve alcohol. He noted that we should err on the side of safety and ban carry in restaurants that serve alcohol. Rep. Bubp assured him that there were witnesses who testified about this last session.

"We agree with the first half of Patmon's thinking regarding safety, but find that the pursuit of safety requires exactly the opposite solution as Patman concluded," observed Irvine.

"It will be interesting to see Rep. Patmon discuss his idea of "safety" and being disarmed with Suzanna Hupp or Nikki Goeser, both of whom watched loved ones shot to death while their guns were locked in the car under laws similar to Ohio's current law.

Buckeye Firearms Association will be following up with committee members on their questions and concerns regarding HB45. We thank Representatives Bubp and Johnson for their time and effort to improve Ohio firearms laws.

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