OSU's Lantern takes a more balanced look at HB12

Ohio State University's student newspaper, The Lantern, has not been known for taking a fair and balanced approach to the issue of concealed carry reform in the past.

But this go' round, budding journalist Matthew Carroll seems to have attempted a much more journalistic look at this story.

Excellent quotes from OFCC President Jeff Garvas, HB12 sponsor Rep. Jim Aslanides, and some duds from anti-self-defense activist Toby Hoover and yet another uninformed Ohio Highway Patrol bureaucrat.

Click here (requires free login) to read the entire story in The Lantern, or click on the "Read More..." link below for an archived version.

Pocketing Pistols
Legislation would allow Ohioans with a permit to carry concealed weapons
By Matthew Carroll

Under current state law if someone is caught with a concealed weapon the law provides an affirmative defense for people who can prove the necessity to carry that weapon. After years of debate, this law may soon change to make it even easier to have a concealed firearm.

House Bill 12 would allow law-abiding Ohioans to carry concealed firearms, provided they have a valid license to do so. State Representative Jim Aslanides, R-Coshocton, introduced this bill to the House of Representatives where it passed with overwhelming support, 69-28. The bill is now being heard before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

"We are finding that more and more people are supporting concealed carry in Ohio," Representative Aslanides said. "This is also a responsible bill when it comes to criminal penalties."

The bill increases the penalty for a known criminal who carries a concealed firearm from a felony three to a felony five. The same increase has been set for the theft of a firearm.

Some organizations remain in opposition to the bill because they feel it will promote more violence and put guns in the hands of people who really do not need them.

Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said 75 percent of gun-related deaths occur from suicides and homicides between people who know each other.

"We do not see guns as the answer to violence," Hoover said. "If guns were the answer, we'd be the safest country in the world."

One of the coalition's main concerns is the increased accessibility to firearms.

"You don't need a reason for wanting a firearm. If you pass the background check and fulfill your 12 hours of training, the sheriff has to give you a permit," Hoover said.

The firearm training is another of their main concerns. They said 12 hours is not a sufficient amount of training time to obtain a deadly weapon.

"Twelve hours is simply not enough time," Hoover said. "This system is also assuming that not only is the citizen law-abiding now, but will continue to be law-abiding forever."

Aslanides said some states require no training at all, just a test.

"Among all the concealed-carry laws in the country, the training requirement in House Bill 12 is one of the most stringent," Aslanides said.

He said the applicant must complete a competency course and an examination conducted by a certified training instructor who trains police officers. They must also complete at least 12 hours of instruction involving live fire, range time and gun-handling training.

"This gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and aptitude that is necessary to shoot a handgun in a safe manner," Aslanides said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is also opposed to House Bill 12 because officers do not want people to carry a concealed weapon while driving.

"Our main point is we don't want loaded firearms on the road, accessible to anyone," said Sgt. Robin Schmutz of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "Law enforcement officers have a dangerous job as it is. This just adds to that danger."

A road rage case that occurred in February, in which a permit holder shot and killed an unarmed truck driver, is an example of the type of problem that Ohio could experience.

"We have seen an increase in road rage incidents over the years," Schmutz said. "Everyone is always in a hurry to get somewhere."

Aslanides said he does not agree with the Highway Patrol.

"Every state around Ohio allows a loaded weapon in a vehicle by a permit holder," Aslanides said. "There is no logical or statistical reason that should set Ohio apart."

Jeff Garvas, president and founder of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, said the bill is important because it presents the possibility for someone to carry a firearm for self-defense.

"One of the best things that this bill creates is the deterrence factor," Garvas said. "That will cause people to think twice about committing a crime, because they'll have no idea who is carrying a weapon."

The bill prohibits the carrying of a concealed weapon onto college campuses, into any establishment that serves alcohol, onto school grounds and a few additional places.

"The more places that are prohibited, the more places harm is invited to the public," Garvas said.

Forty-four states, including all of the states surrounding Ohio, have similar laws to that of House Bill 12.

In 1920, the state Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in favor of a law banning concealed weapons in the case of a steel company employee found with a gun.

A decision in January 2002 made by Judge Bob Ruehlman of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court declared "every law-abiding citizen of this state" has the right to carry a concealed firearm. A year ago, the First Ohio District Court of Appeals unanimously upheld that ruling.

The concealed-firearms debate opened again before the state Supreme Court on April 15, with several justices saying that although Ohio citizens have the right to bear arms, the government has the right to regulate guns. A decision in this case probably will not occur before the end of the summer.

"People will have firearms accessible to them in times of stress, anger, disappointment and drinking," Hoover said. "The culture of fear is building by encouraging people to think it is okay to have a gun in their pocket."

Garvas disagreed with his adversary, and remained grounded in the bill's design.

"We are not endorsing this bill until we see the final product. But we are very happy with the changes we have seen in it," Garvas said. "I think it is time to pass this law."

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