There is a reason legislators ignored the Chicken Little objections of certain law enforcement organizations on HB495

by Chad D. Baus

Lost in all the attention being rightly given to the mass murder in Connecticut one month ago was the Ohio legislature's passage of yet another bill designed to improve the state's concealed carry law.

The few news articles written to cover passage of HB495 (Reciprocity & Concealed Carry Modernization), which passed the day before the horrific events in Newtown, CT, were quick to point out that the legislation was passed above the objections of "law enforcement" (despite the fact that the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Buckeye State Sheriff's Association did not object to the bill).

If the OSHP and BSSA were unopposed, who exactly are they referring to, and what exactly were the objections? Furthermore, can we learn anything from history that can tell us whether or not their objections deserved consideration?

There were two law enforcement organizations who testified in opposition to HB495 - the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), and the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Let's look at them one at a time:

Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police

John Gilchrist Esq. is the professional/paid lobbyist for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP.) In Ohio, Chiefs of Police are unelected officials, most often appointed by a mayor or a city council. There is no direct accountability to the voters. The OACP has opposed every single piece of pro-gun legislation that empowers civilians, including the original concealed carry law.

Consider what Mr. Gilchrist has testified would happen...

...if concealed carry (HB12) passed:

Gilchrist claimed that "if 200,000 to 300,000 citizens begin carrying a concealed weapon, common sense tells us that accidents will become a daily event" and that "many of those who will carry a concealed weapon will also be under the influence of alcohol." (Hasn't happened.)

...if Restaurant Carry (SB17) passed:

Gilchrist testified that "the association believes that allowing guns in barrooms, stadiums, taverns, restaurants and other businesses that sell alcohol will result in more gun violence." (Hasn't happened.)

...if Castle Doctrine (SB184) passed:

"I do not feel Castle Doctrine will help any law abiding citizen." (Oh, but it has.)

And so, once again, Ohio legislators considered a piece of legislation designed to improve and simplify the law for law-abiding gun owners, and Gilchrist came with warnings that if it passes "it will make the job of a peace officer more dangerous" because a non-licensee could have "ammunition in a magazine or speed-loader and have the firearm and magazine or speed-loader readily available - both could be on the on the passenger seat."

Gilchrist further theorized that a person with a gun on their seat could then, when being stopped by police, suffer a "breakdown." He testified they could "snap emotionally, pull their gun, and we could end up with a dead officer."

Ohio Fraternal Order of Police

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police also employs a professional paid lobbyist. The FOP is a union that represents sworn police officers and is funded through union dues deducted from wages paid to police officers (i.e. funded by your tax dollars.) Neither the labor union leadership nor the members are directly accountable to voters.

In its opposition to SB239 (Restaurant & Carry Carry Rules Fix), the FOP's lobbyist claimed it would allow licensees to drive around "twirling" guns on their finger, allow the use of "quick draw" holsters that are a danger to police and require those going to restaurants to have "designated shooters." He also testified that police officers, but not the general public, should be allowed to drink in restaurants and/or while consuming because they are "better trained," "better decision makers," and have received weapons retention training. He failed to give evidence that police officers are trained on how to carry while consuming alcohol (Hint: That's because they're not.)

The FOP opposed HB12 (Ohio Concealed Carry) as well as SB184 (Castle Doctrine), offering similar warnings that have never come to pass.

And so, it comes as no surprise to anyone that the Ohio FOP opposed HB495. The FOP lobbyist seems to believe that all law-abiding gun owners are cop-killers in waiting, objecting to a provision fixing the definition of a "loaded" gun in a motor vehicle by suggesting that this change would give an advantage to someone who intends to shoot an approaching officer (as though such a person really cares how the law defines a "loaded" gun in the first place!).

The Ohio FOP also objected to removing the "recurrent training" provision and comparing concealed handgun license (CHL) holders' 12 hours of training (the highest in the country) to the training police officer receive.

But this comparison is a non sequitur. A person with a CHL is a citizen exercising the federal and state constitutional right of self-defense through a statutory framework. This citizen faces strict, severe criminal and civil liability for any mistake made in exercising this most fundamental of rights.

A police officer is performing a job using extraordinary powers and immunities granted to them by citizens. The officer almost never personally faces civil or criminal liability for mistakes made; instead, they are granted broad immunity and, in an instance where this immunity does not apply, the taxpayers indemnify the officer for the mistake.

There is no logical comparison between a citizen exercising an inherent right and a police officer exercising extraordinary authority granted them by virtue of the job they hold. As such, a police officer's firearms training is not relevant to how a citizen exercises the federal and state constitutional right of self-defense.

NOT ONE of Gilchrist's or the FOP's Chicken Little predictions have come true when concealed carry, restaurant carry, or Castle Doctrine passed. The sky never fell.

And that is why legislators rightfully concluded that their opposition to HB495 wasn't worth consideration.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

To contact Rep. Johnson to thank him for sponsoring this important legislation, and to thank Governor Kasich for signing it, please click here.

While you're there, use the Action Alerts to send a thank you to Representatives and Senators who voted for the bill!

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