Time to Fix Ohio’s Gun Laws
Commentary by Larry S. Moore
(This commentary has also been published at Ohio Outdoor News)
HB 347, which is stalled in the Ohio Senate, would have corrected two key problems with Ohio’s concealed carry law. However, the deficiencies in Ohio’s firearms laws go well beyond HB 347. The problems also go well beyond the scope of concealed carry and impact anyone who hunts or is a recreational shooter.
The bill will fix the troublesome vehicle in plain sight and lock box problems with concealed carry. Plain sight has been of special concern to many motorcycle riders. The current law discriminates against women by not allowing purse carry of their concealed handgun. Many women do not regularly wear clothing where a handgun can be carried in a belt or shoulder holster.
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Another key correction is statewide preemption for gun laws. Sportsmen and target shooters are at risk when traveling with their firearms, especially if those firearms are semi-automatic. There is almost no way to know all the local ordinances that might affect firearms. Shooters and hunters should enjoy the same consistent laws that drivers expect across the state.
The proper definition of a loaded firearm was removed from HB 347. Current court interpretations require the firearm and the ammunition be transported so that both are not within the passenger compartment. The law should properly define a loaded gun as one with ammunition in the magazine or chamber. So what about SUVs or pickup trucks without a cap shell? Why are those left to the interpretation of local police?
Other firearm issues that should be addressed include the ability to leave firearms secured in vehicles while at work. Many companies ban guns in vehicles in company parking lots. My employer bans guns in the parking lot. I don’t want to waste gas driving home before going to the range or getting a couple of hours in the field after work.
Posted locations present problems for sportsmen. Some also post the parking lots. I accept that businesses have a property right to post. However, I still need a place to park when I stop for fuel or food while traveling. I should not have to risk becoming a criminal because I drive into a parking lot looking for a restroom, fuel or food. Our world is flooded with signs. It is too easy to miss a sign. The posting of private property was enacted with the concealed carry law but the signs clearly state no guns. A great number of sportsmen tell me this only applies to concealed carry. There have been no court cases testing the interpretation. I do not want to be the test case.
Buckeye Firearms Association, which represents concealed carry and sportsmen issues in Ohio, provided proponent testimony along with other Ohio pro-gun organizations. The NRA was present but did not offer testimony. Where were the hundreds of orange hats that showed up during the budget issues? Why are not more sportsmen and organizations supporting reform of Ohio’s gun laws?
Fixing Ohio’s gun laws is good for the recreational shooter and the sportsmen. Many shooters and hunters are not interested in concealed carry. The gun debate surrounding firearms issues should be important to all sportsmen. Gun laws are another element that is used against the sportsmen to limit hunting. Where gun laws are restrictive, hunting and recreational shooting also is restricted.
Sportsmen joining the fight for our firearms rights will greatly improve the odds that real reform will pass in Ohio. Every sportsmen, gun, or conservation club should have a legislative liaison or committee. They should access resources such as the NRA legislative alerts and the Buckeye Firearms weekly electronic newsletter for the latest information. Individuals can use the same resources to contact legislators and join with local volunteers to support reform of Ohio's firearms laws.
Are you protecting the right to keep and bear arms in Ohio or are you a Monday morning quarterback?