Plenty left to do before gun law goes into effect
Attorney general must print material; sheriffs may not have staff for permits
February 23, 2004
While the state attorney general’s office wrestles with the complicated conceal/carry law for its advent April 8, proponents and opponents are waging an Internet battle to try to influence how it plays out.
Anti-gun groups are lobbying businesses to ban handguns, which is allowed under the controversial law passed by the legislature Jan. 7. The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence Web site allows Ohioans to download a "Weapon Free Zone" poster that can be used at a private business.
Not to be outdone, Ohioans for Concealed Carry has beefed up its Web site with information on how to get a permit. The site also has articles rebutting opponents’ attempts to minimize concealed handguns.
Robert A. Cornwell of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association says his group is helping train county sheriffs for an anticipated rush to get permits when it comes time to receive applications.
"Although the bill is effective April 8 . . . we may not be able to meet that date," Cornwell said. He explained that sheriffs can’t start taking applications until they receive all the materials from the office of Attorney General Jim Petro and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, which is preparing the forms and a pamphlet that is required reading.
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Cornwell said some sheriffs are short of personnel and their budgets may be strained by the new duty of processing conceal/carry applications. He said some offices may set certain times, including evenings and weekends, to accommodate applicants and put more sheriffs’ employees on the task.
The attorney general’s office plans to hold regional meetings and teleconferences to train Ohio law-enforcement personnel in the finer points of the law.
Those planning to get a permit can consult the attorney general’s Web site at www.ag-.state.oh.us to view answers to common questions about the law.
"Our goal is a safe, efficient permitting process," said Kim Norris, spokeswoman for Petro.
The attorney general’s office is continuing to seek a way for sheriffs to determine whether an applicant is mentally competent. Involuntary commitments to mental hospitals are in court records, but federal privacy rules prevent institutions from disclosing any prior voluntary commitments.
Cornwell said applicants must answer whether they ever have been committed to a mental institution. If they falsify their application, he said, they will be denied a permit in the future.
Jim Irvine, a spokesman for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, says the privacy issue should not be a factor in determining mental competency because voluntary commitments are only a small percentage of the total.
"We’ve looked around at other states and there doesn’t seem to be a problem with that," he said.
The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence has posted on its Web site a list of recommended actions to persuade employers to make the workplace weaponfree.
"We want to let people know, and private businesses know, that they still have a right to keep guns away," said Toby Hoover, coalition director. "You do not have to accept this in your space."
Most of the recommendations involve speaking up, questioning and encouraging.
Irvine said his group wants to make the public aware of businesses that post notices that no handguns are allowed on the property. He denied that his group will be urging a boycott of such businesses.
"We want them (permitholders) to know they’re not welcome there," he said. "It’s up to them whether they want to leave the gun in the car or go somewhere else."
Lori O’Neill, chairwoman of the greater Cleveland chapter of the Million Mom March, said her group is assembling informational packets about places where concealed guns will be prohibited, such as schools, churches, day-care centers and taverns.
The chapter also is advising businesses on how to post their property as a gun-free zone. "Our philosophy is, let’s educate businesses on what they can do now," O’Neill said.
The Ohio Hospital Association is communicating with its 170 hospitals and is planning a March 16 seminar in Columbus where officials can be briefed on the law by experts including people who deal with hospital safety and security.
Twenty-one government-owned or operated hospitals will have to prohibit handguns, and the association has issued a memorandum on how to do that, including the posting of notices at all entrances. Private hospitals are free to ban or permit the carrying of concealed weapons.
"It is left up to them," said Mary Yost, senior vice president of the association. "We can’t pretend to know what works best for them in their circumstances."
This story highlights the reason OFCC and the OFCC PAC continue to need your support (via membership dues and donations). OFCC will obviously watching these developments very closely.
Ohio's defenseless citizens have waited far too long for their right to bear arms for self-defense to be restored. Innocent people continue to be victimized. False issues like a supposed HIPAA conflict cannot be permitted to delay enactment of this law, nor should potential for a large influx of early applicants. Other states' sheriff's offices and training facilities have been professional enough to handle the initial demand for CHL's, and we expect Ohio's to be as well.
Concealed Carry [Licenses] Meet Complications