Unsung heroes behind passage of Ohio's Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix and Restoration of Rights bills deserve our thanks

by Jim Irvine

Governor John Kasich recently signed two important firearms bills into law. SB17 affects those with who carry concealed in Ohio. HB54 affects those who have had firearm rights restored. In addition to the Governor and bill sponsors, there are some other people who worked hard for your rights and deserve recognition.

Senator Jason Wilson (D-Columbiana) was a primary sponsor of the restoration bill last session and again this session. From the beginning, he understood the issue, and worked with interested parties to produce good legislation. He worked Democrats and Republicans to help them understand the issue's importance and impact. The people of Ohio could not ask for anything more from a bill sponsor.

Representative Danny Bubp (R-West Union) was a primary sponsor of restaurant carry and improvements of car carry this session, and was the leader of an effort to force a vote on this and restoration issues last session through a discharge petition. He proved the votes were there to pass the bills, but we fell one day short on session as then-Speaker Budish (D) refused to allow the bills a vote. Had Bubp been successful, the fixes attained this session would have become effective months ago, instead of 3 months from now.

Legislative aides are a critical component of any office. Wilson and Bubp have excellent aides in Jason Phillips and Erica Wilson. They worked efficiently together to move legislation forward.

Committee Chairmen are as important as anyone in preserving and improving legislation on its way to a floor vote, and Chairman Mecklenborg (R) and Grendell (R) were excellent. Their aides, like a bill's sponsors, are vital to communicating with interested parties. Lisa Griffin and Elizabeth Lust are as impressive as their bosses.

Other committee members play important roles, such as Senator Obhoff (R-Montville Township) who offered an amendment to help people convicted of violating certain confusing and cumbersome restrictions to transporting firearms in cars. Others helped by building support on the committee and in their respective caucuses.

Citizens can testify before the committee in support of or opposition to bills being debated. That testimony can become powerful as it associates real people with words and ideas. Two people who offered compelling testimony regarding restaurant carry are Suzanna Hupp and Nikki Goeser. Their courage and conviction have changed laws in other states after Suzanna's parents and Nikki's husband were murdered. Suzanna and Nikki followed a bad law and left their guns in their cars. Thankfully when our laws go into effect, Ohioans will no longer have to choose between being felons or being able to live through a violent encounter like Hupp and Goeser had to.

There are, of course, many others who were important to these improvements being signed into law: Republicans, Democrats, Senators, Representatives, and office staff. The newspaper editorial boards with their continuous fearmongering and misstatement of facts caused some elected representatives concern. That concern was answered by thousands of phone calls, letters, and emails to the elected officials. The average citizen, Bob and Betty Buckeye, and the grassroots became engaged in the process and let their legislators know that they wanted firearms laws improved, and gave personal examples of how the laws affected them.

The vast majority of bills introduced die without becoming law, many failing to ever get as far as a single committee vote. Passing legislation is difficult and there are many required ingredients to achieve a successful outcome. Some people have their name in the paper on a regular basis, and others are never mentioned. All are important in our republican form of government. We salute all who contributed to the passage of good legislation.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

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