SB 215 (Constitutional Carry) receives first hearing in Senate committee

Senate Bill 215, introduced by Sen. Terry Johnson (R), received its first hearing last week in the Senate Veterans & Public Safety Track Committee, and representatives from Buckeye Firearms Association were on hand.

The bill received sponsor-only testimony before the committee, which also then voted to amend the bill.

From the Gongwer News Service:

Joint sponsor Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) called his proposal "remarkably simple" in that it establishes permitless carry for those over 21 years old who are not legally prohibited from firearm possession.

"This does not eliminate concealed carry [licensure]," Sen. Johnson said, noting that such permits are useful for reciprocity with other states. "We don't really change concealed carry."

As noted in the article, the bill also seeks to eliminate the duty to notify a law enforcement officer of a concealed firearm during a traffic stop.

Again, from the article:

Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) and Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) flagged concerns with the bill, with the former asking the sponsor whether he consulted with law enforcement groups.

"No sir," Sen. Johnson replied.

"Are you concerned with their concerns about this legislation?" Sen. Thomas asked.

Sen. Johnson replied, "Absolutely," but added that "constitutional carry" laws adopted in other states have not led to "blood in the streets" as predicted by some opponents.

"It, frankly, just hasn't turned out to be a big deal at all," Sen. Johnson said.

One Republican, Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London), also expressed concern, suggesting that by foregoing a license firearm carriers would receive less training. He suggested that "concealed carry would probably go away if this is passed" (even though this has not happened in any state that has adopted a Constitutional Carry law while keeping their licensure law in place).

With regard to the quesiton on training, Johnson told Hackett and the committee, "Nowhere in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution does it say you have to have training to defend yourself, to bear arms."

Johnson also asked the committee to adopt an amendment that clarifies a portion of the bill creating a pretrial civil immunity process if a person uses force against another in defense of themselves, another person or a person's property.

Under the bill, if the pretrial immunity hearing results in a favorable ruling for the defendant, the person claims immunity from liability for injury, death or loss to another.

"This amendment would make clear that if a person does not prevail at a pretrial immunity hearing and the matter proceeds to trial, then the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person did not use force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person's residence," the sponsor said.

Sen. Johnson further commented that using deadly force is a "tragedy" but that individuals should not have their lives derailed by civil lawsuits from families of the deceased.

"Now you've got to go through the tragedy of this (lawsuit), which can actually ruin your life," Sen. Johnson said. "If in that hearing they decide you did this in self-defense then your life's not going to be ruined."

The committee adopted the amendment on a 5-2 party-line vote. A future hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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