The Status of Ohio Concealed Carry Legislation

December 27, 2003
By Jeff Garvas, OFCC President

Ohioans For Concealed Carry has been at the forefront to enact concealed carry reform legislation for nearly five years. We've worked with organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation, the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association, the Ohio Gun Collector's Association, the National Rifle Association and many other grassroots gun owners and organizations on numerous projects.

The goal at all times has been to enact concealed carry legislation and bring public attention to the issue and its impact on Ohioans. We've succeeded on many fronts, and we've played a serious role in contributing to the language in House Bill 12.

Our membership and volunteers have coordinated numerous rallies across the State of Ohio where participants carried handguns openly to display the irony of the situation in Ohio -- these events include walks in Columbus in front of the Statehouse, walks in front of the Governor's mansion, and walks in cities where law enforcement reluctantly admitted we had every right to be there doing what we were doing.

Recently, Dan White from Ohioans For Concealed Carry coordinated an armed shopping trip in historic Vermilion Ohio on the single busiest Holiday shopping day of the year -- the Saturday before Christmas. While many local news outlets warned about it in advance, many ignored it after the event, while distant states across the nation picked up the story.

In December, the Ohio House and Senate passed a conference committee version of House Bill 12. Contrary to what you may read in the news or through other websites, this bill is not on Governor Taft's desk.

Before a bill or Act can become law it must be signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. The Speaker of the House has not signed HB12, and it remains with the Ohio House Clerk at this time. Since the Ohio House has not delivered the bill to the Senate, and the Senate has not delivered it to the Governor, the constitutionally-mandated "ten day period" in which Governor Taft must make a decision or let the Act become law has not yet begun.

The reason for this becomes clear when you learn what is currently taking place both openly and behind the scenes.

House Speaker Larry Householder says his chamber will vote to override a Governor's veto. Senate President Doug White has indicated his own internal polling reveals a willingness in the Senate Republican caucus to override (Nov. 27). At other times, however, White has indicated he doesn't have the votes (Dec. 10). Since then, he has insisted he has never even taken a poll among Caucus members (Dec. 12 to present).

In the light of this "uncertainty" in the Senate, Speaker Householder has delayed the bill, and thereby bought time for Senator White to lead the caucus in an override or, in lieu of that, to negotiate a further compromise to save the legislation. Governor Taft's office has approached the House with a compromise that he claims would earn his signature.

The current version of HB12, as passed by the House and Senate, allows the news media to request the name of a possible licensee from a Sheriff's office, one name at a time, with reason. The scheme is similiar to that which is used to protect the identity of emergency workers in the fields of EMS, Fire, and Police. Governor Taft insists the legislation must allow the news media, or any journalist (at minimum), to request a list of every single licensee in a given county and get that list. He says anything short of that will earn his veto. (Previously, Taft insisted that law enforcement groups not oppose. Nothing was said of anti-gun editorial boards.)

Because of a few Senators (including the President) who are unwilling to indicate their willingness to override a veto, all signs point to a likely compromise, in the form of companion legislation fast tracked through the House and Senate. The companion legislation could be passed as soon as lawmakers return in January.

Some proponents of CCW have argued that the compromise means giving too much away. Others have stated that the bill is already poorly written, and that this compromise is like giving an inch where a mile has already been given to get a law.

It goes without saying that, if HB12 does become law, Ohioans For Concealed Carry expects this bill to be improved in the future. We will be first in line offering proposed changes via future legislation, and we are encouraged that friends in both the House and Senate have already approached us for our involvement and suggestions.

Those of you who support this organization and have helped candidates on our behalf have made Ohioans For Concealed Carry a respected organization in Columbus. Should this legislation become law, we are in a good position to pursue legislation to "reform the reform" because of those of you who support us.

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