Ohio Senate proposes changes to concealed carry law in biennium budget bill

Dix Communications is reporting that changes which would effect gun owners are among the Ohio Senate's proposed changes to the 2015-2016 biennium budget bill currently being debated in the Statehouse.

The article outlines two amendments that deal with changes to state firearms laws:

1. Guns: Senators added language to block journalists from viewing concealed firearm licensing records, including documents outlining the issuance, renewal, suspension or revocation of such licenses.

Those documents are already considered confidential under state law, but an exception allows reporters to access the records.

Under current practice, journalists can view the documents but without recording devices or any means of copying the contents.

2. Veterans and Guns: An amendment would allow active-duty members of the military to possess concealed firearms without an Ohio license, so long as they have a valid military identification card and has received small arms training as part of their service.

Both changes would be welcome changes to Ohio gun owners.

Media Access Loophole

The media access loophole (MAL), inserted in at the insistence of then-Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R) as am 11th-hour poison-pill amendment which he hoped would make the original concealed carry law untenable, has never been used for the purposes for which it was claimed to be needed. Rather, the provision which allows journalists access to the confidential records of Ohio concealed handgun license (CHL)-holders has only been used by anti-self-defense media wishing to harass those who chose to execerise their Second Amendment rights.

In 2006, the Ohio legislature first attempted to clarify its intent in giving journalists access to the records via passage of House Bill 9, As originally passed by the House (by a 93-1 vote!), HB 9 contained contained language which would have to allowed people with CHLs to completely protect their private, personal information from the media. Sadly, the language was stripped out by Republicans in the Ohio Senate and replaced with the watered-down "view but not copy" modification, which eventually became law, and which we warned at the time was not going to be enough to prevent anti-gun newspapers from obtaining and publishing the names of license-holders.

Just as we predicted, in 2011, Jessica Heffner, a staff writer for The Middletown Journal, used the MAL to compile and publish a list of elected officials in the Buckeye State who have obtained concealed handgun licenses. And just last year, Buckeye Firearms Association exposed a plot by newspaper conglomerate Civitas Media, which owns some 88 newspapers across the country, to use "public records act requests" to "build state-by-state databases that list those who have the right to carry" firearm licenses.

Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Miami Township) deserves thanks for having added this fix to the Senate's proposed changes to the biennium budget bill. We hope the current crop of Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate will agree it is time to close the loophole once and for all.

Active Duty Military Concealed Carry

It should be an embarrasment to all of Ohio that 18 - 20 year-old men and women who volunteer to carry a gun while fighting (and sometimes dying) for their country are not allowed to carry a concealed firearm when they come home. This proposal seeks to change that travesty.

Under the Senate proposal, service members who are 18 or older would not need a license to carry a concealed handgun in the Buckeye State as long as they have military identification and a certificate indicating successful small-arms qualification.

The last time changes were made via a budget bill was in 2009, when the fee structure was improved, and the definition of "unloaded transportation of firearms" was corrected to specifically acknowledge that ammunition loaded in enbloc clips or stripper clips is NOT considered loaded in a "magazine or speed loader" for the purposes of determining whether a firearm is unloaded. The bill was signed into law by then Gov. Ted Strickland (D).

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

Media Coverage:

Gannett Ohio - Ohio Senate wants gun permits secret

Gun advocates say journalists have abused access to concealed handgun licenses by publicizing lists of their names and putting gun owners in danger. A New York newspaper published a map of concealed carry permit holders and their addresses after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

"There's no public good that comes out of the media accessing that list. So it should be closed," said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearm Association.

Sheriff's offices are responsible for making sure people with gun permits are following the law, not reporters, he added.


Another change in the two-year budget would allow members of the military to carry concealed handgun licenses while on active leave. They would have to carry valid military identification and a certificate of training as well as be at least 18 years old.

Ohioans can serve in the military at 18 years old but cannot obtain a concealed gun permit until they are 21 years old, Irvine said.

"They carry guns overseas, then come home on military leave, and we are disarming them. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever," Irvine said.

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