Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix (SB17) and Restoration of Rights (HB54) pass House & Senate committees; Floor votes pending

Two pro-gun bills, one of which would make critical improvements to Ohio's concealed carry laws, have been passed by House and Senate committees.

The House Committee on State Government and Elections, which is chaired by BFA "A" -rated Rep. Bob Mecklenborg, passed SB17 (Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix) with a 12 - 10 vote mostly party line vote (the only Republican to join the Democrats in opposition to the bill was Rep. Richard Hollington [R-98]. Teresa Fedor [D-47] was absent.)

SB17, sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer (R), SB17 will allow citizens who hold a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry a firearm in restaurants, and to reduce burdensome restrictions regarding how a license holder must transport a firearm in a car. By passing SB17, the committee approved a Senate amendment which provides a way for people who were convicted of improperly transporting a firearm under the current law to receive relief if they would have been in compliance under the law as amended in SB17.

The House committee also amended the bill to include the words "beer or intoxicating" before the word "liquor" throughout the bill. This amendment addressed the concerns of several Representatives who were concerned that license holders would be allowed to consume beer under the new legislation, because beer is not "liquor" as defined in the Ohio Revised Code. (Download the amendment here.)

Speaker William Batchelder has indicated the bill may receive a vote by the full House as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, June 15. If passed by the House, SB17 will be sent back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, before being Governor Kasich for his signature.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary on Criminal Justice Committee, which is chaired by BFA "A+" -rated Sen. Tim Grendell (R), passed HB54 (Restoration of Rights) with a 6 - 2 vote. Democrat Nina Turner (D) voted no. Mysteriously, Democrat Eric Kearney joined her, after having voted "yes" for an identical Senate bill passed by the committee on April 12, and having voted "yes" again for the bill when it came to the floor the following day.

Sponsored by Reps. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and Jarrod Martin (R-Beavercreek), HB54 will align Ohio law with federal statutes regarding the restoration of rights to Ohio firearms purchasers. HB54 passed in the House on May 11 by a 78-18 majority. If it is passed by the full Senate without amendments, it will be sent to Governor John Kasich for his signature.

Media Coverage:
WTAM 1100AM Cleveland - Concealed carry law may change soon

"Every state surrounding Ohio already has this, the exception is every state surround Ohio does allow consumption so anyone who has driven outside of Ohio has experienced this law in far more liberal terms than what we're passing," said Jim Irvine with the Buckeye Firearms Association.

...Irvine says studies show 90% of the multiple-victim killings that take place do so in venues where concealed weapons are not permitted.

"Why would you make a place one of those 90%," he said.

The House previously passed a similar piece of legislation, but the Senate version has been picked to go to Governor Kasich's desk so the House has to agree to it.

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