"Only a handful of dates left": Republican-led Senate still plotting future for pro-gun rights bills

The Gongwer News Service is reporting that the Senate Civil Justice Committee chairman is saying bills to modify concealed carry laws and allow hunters to use noise suppressors could be combined as lawmakers look to move the measures before the end of the lame duck session.

From the article:

With just weeks to go before the end of the legislative session, Sen. Bill Coley (R-Liberty Twp.) said the majority caucus is considering using one of the firearms-related bills as a vehicle for the other changes.

"We're just discussing whether we should combine the two bills into one...just looking at all the ideas from the various bills and combining it all into one," he said in an interview.

...

"Not sure what the vehicle we're going to use to move this stuff," he said. "We really like (SB338) and we like a lot of stuff that's in (HB234) and some of the stuff in the other House bill we like too. So we're looking at just adjusting and figuring out what the vehicle's going to be to move everything in."

In his hearing announcement last week, Chairman Coley indicated that possible amendments and votes are expected on the Rep. Cheryl Grossman's (R-Grove City) HB 234 and Sen. Joe Uecker's (R-Loveland) SB 338 in Wednesday's committee hearing. 

However, Sen. Joe Uecker told Gongwer that the measures could end up in any House-passed bill that lawmakers think they can fold them into without violating the single subject rule.

"We're trying to find a vehicle," he is quoted as saying, noting that lawmakers "only have a handful of dates left."

According to the article, lawmakers said that in addition to potentially being combined with other legislation, the firearms-related bills may pick up further amendments.

Chairman Coley told Gongwer that HB 234, which would allow Ohioans with valid hunting licenses to use noise suppressors when hunting certain species, is likely to be amended to reflect the act that the devices don't "silence" firearms - something that Buckeye Firearms Association worked hard to educate legislators on by holding a special range demonstration day last February.

"The corrections are the word 'silencer' to 'suppressor' because as the testimony was, so much as I love James Bond, it doesn't work that way" Coley is quoted as saying.

Rep. Becker said another potential amendment would essentially incorporate his proposal (HB 191) to delete a provision in state law defining a semi-automatic weapon as an automatic weapon if it can fire more than 31 cartridges without reloading. The bill has received just one hearing in the House Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee since being introduced in June 2013.

Rep. Grossman said an additional proposed amendment would pertain to the attorney general's ability to sign-off on suppressor applications.

Sen. Uecker, meanwhile, said he still intends to offer an amendment to his proposed bill that would allow active duty military members below age 21 to obtain a concealed carry permit in Ohio.

In Guns & Ammo's ranking of "Best States for Concealed Carry," Ohio ranks 41st, and falls far behind all of its border states. Michigan, which passed concealed carry one year before Ohio, ranks 31st. West Virgina ranks 32nd, Pennsylvania is 15th, Indiana comes in 14th and Kentucky is ranked 11th.

If they have any hope of bringing the Buckeye State into the 21st century when it comes to gun rights, Ohio's pro-gun rights legislators have their work cut out for them. Despite having a Republican-dominated General Assembly, no pro-gun legislation has been sent to the governor's desk since December 2012. While the Ohio House passed House Bill 203 (Concealed Carry & Self-Defense Law Reform) last year, the Ohio Senate has failed to act.

If legislators do not act, HB 203 and many other pro-gun bills that are pending will die at the end of December, and will need to be re-introduced in the next session.

If you want to see the General Assembly act to improve gun rights in ways that are already enjoyed by the majority of other states, call your Representative and Senator NOW and tell them you expect pro-gun legislation to move in Ohio BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR. They asked for your vote on Tuesday, November 4. Tell them we want their votes too.

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.

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