To the Editor: Bill gives upstanding folks a second chance

The following letter to the editor was published recently in The Columbus Dispatch.

As reported in The Dispatch ("Bill can expunge gun-crime record," June 17), the legislature recently gave a small and specific group of people the opportunity to clear their records of particular concealed-carry firearm violations. This is part of Senate Bill 17, which clarifies where and how Ohio’s concealed-carry permit holders can carry a licensed firearm.

The majority of states allow permit holders to carry concealed firearms in vehicles. Unlike most other states, Ohio's concealed-carry law had a number of additional complex rules regarding how a weapon must be carried in a car. As a result, some law-abiding citizens unintentionally violated the law.

Senate Bill 17 represents an effort to repeal these unnecessary and complex requirements. Unfortunately, a simple repeal does little for those people who ended up with an offense on their record. For that reason, I sponsored an amendment that would allow those people to apply for expungement for certain car-carry violations.

To be clear, expungement is not automatic. The bill gives a judge the discretion to grant an expungement if, after consulting with the prosecutor and considering the specific facts of a case, the judge determines that it is warranted. If an applicant was engaged in other unlawful behavior at the time of the conviction, a judge can — and presumably would — deny the application. Furthermore, the provision is narrowly tailored to apply only to those convicted of violating the specific car-carry sections repealed by the bill.

This amendment received unanimous and bipartisan support in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. It was adopted by the committee by a vote of 9-0, and two of those votes were from senators who voted against the bill as a whole. Even though they opposed the underlying policies of Senate Bill 17, they recognized the importance of giving a second chance to people who never intended to violate the law.

STATE SEN. LARRY OBHOF
22nd District
Medina

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