Sub. HB 142 (Modify LEO Notification) scheduled for vote in House

Substitute House Bill 142 (Modify LEO Notification), sponsored by Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), has been scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow, October 24.

As originally introduced, HB 142 sought to eliminate the requirement that, when detained for a law-enforcement purpose, a concealed handgun license (CHL) holder must "promptly inform" an approaching law enforcement officer that the licensee has a CHL and is carrying a concealed handgun. The bill also sought to remove criminal penalties associated with failure to comply with the notification requirements, including the possibility of having a concealed handgun license suspended.

As amended and passed by the House Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations by a 9-2 bi-partisan vote, Sub. HB 142 would instead modify the law to require that, if asked by a law enforcement officer for a driver's license or state-issued ID, a CHL holder must also display the person's concealed handgun license or documents demonstrating the person to be a qualified military member with the driver's license or state ID, or orally inform the officer or employee, at the same time as displaying the driver's license or state ID, that the person has been issued a concealed handgun license or is authorized to carry a concealed handgun as an active duty military member, and disclose that the person then is carrying a concealed handgun or has a loaded handgun in the motor vehicle.

The substitute bill also specifies that failure to comply with the notification requirement described above is a minor misdemeanor and that the offender may be subject to a fine of not more than $25; plus it removes the possibility of having a concealed handgun license suspended for failure to comply.

The Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association's Executive Director Robert Cornwell said the changes create for license holders "a clear line of distinction as to when they are required to notify the law enforcement officer that they are a licensee.

"This clarification will benefit all those concerned," he wrote. The group remains neutral on the bill.

In 2015, a study by ConcealedNation.org revealed that Ohio was in a vast minority of states that makes such a requirement of concealed handgun license-holders.

Under current law, a CHL must notify a law enforcement officer “promptly” if they are armed. How soon is promptly? When does the clock start? Does this requirement take precedence over other law-enforcement instructions? These are all problems caused by the vagueness of current law, and there are no good answers.

Under Sub. HB 142, a CHL will be required to notify law enforcement when displaying their driver’s license or state ID card. For those that are concerned that they might forget, tape the two together and put them in your wallet/purse. Problem solved.

The idea for repealing or modifying the notification provision has been the subject of frequent discussion since June 2011, when Canton police officer Daniel Harless was caught on dash cam video threatening to execute a concealed carry licensee because he felt notification did not happen in time.

The case against the CHL-holder was eventually thrown out of court, and his civil rights suit against the City of Canton was settled out of court.

Harless was fired. He later tried to get his job back, and eventually was given $40,000 from the city, a neutral employment recommendation and a retired-officer ID in exchange for his resignation.

The notification provision isn't just objectionable because of this one case or problem.

I (Chad) have often told the story of the time when I was witness to an injury car accident and stopped to render first aid. Upon law enforcement arrival (several officers, one at a time, over the course of several minutes), I was forced to stop rendering aid to repeatedly inform each new officer on the scene of the fact that I was carrying, since I was a witness to the accident and being detained for a law enforcement purpose. One officer, finally recognizing the stupidity of my legal obligation, told me he would make sure anyone else who arrived knew.

In discussions with a criminal defense attorney, I (Jim) was told this legislation would have prevented almost all of the cases he’s had on duty to notify. And he’s had a lot. Keeping good gun owners from needing an attorney is good for us. It’s something we should all support.

Changes that Sub. HB 142 would make if enacted into law:
  Current law Sub. HB 142
Penalty for violating the law First degree misdemeanor Minor misdemeanor
Potential jail time Up to 6 months No jail time
Fine Up to $1,000 Up to $25
When you must notify All law enforcement stops Only when asked for your driver’s license or state
identification card
Timeline to notify Promptly When presenting your DL/ID
Who you must notify Any (all) LEO Only the officer who asked for your DL/ID
Must every person in the car
disclose they are carrying when
stopped?
Yes No
Does presenting your CHL to the officer satisfy the requirement
to notify?
No Yes

 

What does not change under the proposed Sub. HB 142?

  • Rules for transporting long guns
  • Rules for transporting firearms for those without a CHL
  • Rules for CHLs when not armed
  • Other rules for CHLs during traffic stop (hands in plain sight, off the gun, etc.)
  • There are no new obligations for those with a CHL

Is this a perfect bill? No. None of them are. But it makes significant improvements to current law and greatly reduces when a CHL must notify, who a CHL must notify, and how severe the penalties are when a CHL forgets to notify law enforcement. It makes all these improvements while making no part of current law worse.

There are those who always want the huge all-or-nothing gun rights bill. I (Jim) understand that. After 15+ years of meetings and hearings and miles to/from Columbus, I’d love that time to go shooting and spend time with my family. But that is not how things work in Ohio. Never has, and probably never will.

The most recent attempt to remove the duty to promptly inform was introduced by Reps. Ron Maag and Andy Thompson back in 2011. Republicans in control of the legislature failed to move the bill.

HB 142 is co-sponsored by Representatives Becker, Brinkman, Conditt, Dean, Goodman, Hood, Keller, Kick, Koehler, Lipps, Merrin, Roegner, Seitz, Thompson, and Vitale.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. 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.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association President, BFA PAC Chairman and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award" and the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award."

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