Op-ed: Responsibly protecting our right to bear arms

Editor's Note: The following guest op-ed was originally published in The Ironton Tribune.

by Terry Johnson

As United States citizens, we are all endowed with certain inalienable rights, protected from government restrictions and limitations.

In 1791, the Bill of Rights was adopted by our young nation, cementing our basic personal liberties.

Among the most fundamental of these freedoms is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, affirming our right to bear arms. The founding fathers recognized our need to be able to defend ourselves against those who wish to do us harm.

The Second Amendment gives the people the power to own and use guns for lawful purposes, and millions of firearm owners across America responsibly exercise this right every day.

As your state representative, I believe it's important to uphold and follow the language of the Second Amendment. Our own state constitution reaffirms the right to bear arms, included in the original draft in 1802.

To abide by these foundational documents and ensure the full freedoms of my constituents, I have been involved in various pro-gun rights legislation this General Assembly.

I saw that there were several points where our state law did not conform to our constitutionally granted liberties, both on a state and a national level. To this end, I have sponsored and supported two related bills to revise present firearm codes.

Along with my colleague, Rep. Danny Bubp, I jointly sponsored House Bill 45.

The legislation will allow citizens who have valid concealed handgun licenses to carry their firearms into restaurants serving alcohol.

It stipulates that the gun carrier must abstain from alcohol consumption and cannot be under the influence of any drugs.

In addition, House Bill 45 will revise the restrictions governing lawful transportation of firearms in cars. The present limitations can be confusing, and most violations are of an “administrative” nature. It is simply unethical to slap felony charges on responsible citizens who harbor no intention to harm.

On June 30, 2011, a companion bill, Senate Bill 17, was passed into law and signed by Governor Kasich in an effort to implement these necessary changes.

This law will become effective 90 days after the signing as there was no emergency clause resulting in immediate implementation.

With this legislation, Ohioans will have the ability to protect themselves in more places and under more circumstances, as our founders intended.

I also co-sponsored House Bill 54, another gun-related bill that has recently passed through the House.

Instead of focusing on where citizens can carry firearms, this legislation will allow for restoration of gun ownership rights under certain conditions, which would bring Ohio into compliance with a recent Supreme Court/BATFE ruling that states that to restore gun ownership rights for someone under firearm disability, there must be a complete restoration.

Since the adoption of the U.S. Bill of Rights, our nation has progressed a great deal. American society is very different, but the need for the Second Amendment has not changed. With House Bills 45 and 54, the state legislature has protected the integrity of this right so that, in turn, we all are able to protect our families and ourselves.

Rep. Terry Johnson may be reached by calling (614) 466-2124, e-mailing [email protected], or writing to State Rep. Terry Johnson, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

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