Toledo Blade: Senate Committee ponders proximity in autos

A Senate committee moved closer yesterday to approving a controversial bill allowing Ohioans to carry hidden handguns.

The bill is on the fast track in the Senate, but it remains to be seen how the House might react to some of the changes pondered in the Senate.

Members of the Judiciary Committee on Civil Justice focused on the question of whether permit-holders should be prohibited from having guns at easy reach within their cars. The prohibition is something Gov. Bob Taft has insisted upon before he would sign such a bill, but its inclusion could alienate some gun-rights groups supporting the bill.

"If the Senate is thinking about that part of the bill, I think we’re going to have a serious problem," said Omar Ganoon, a Columbus investment banker, competitive shooter, and National Rifle Association member. "I think that would really gut the liberties aspect of the whole issue of the right to carry."

Mr. Taft has vowed to veto the measure without the support of law enforcement. Language that would require guns in automobiles to be secured and not within easy reach has been sought by the Ohio Highway Patrol. The patrol, like the Fraternal Order of Police and Chiefs of Police Association, is opposed to the measure as it passed the House in March. The Buckeye Sheriffs Association supports the bill.

"Keep in mind that the highway patrol is an arm of state government and state government reports to the governor," Mr. Ganoon told the committee. "If the governor decides to veto the legislation, that’s his prerogative. Certainly we have enough votes in the House to override the veto and I think support in the Senate is strong too."

The House bill would allow private property owners, including businesses, to prohibit guns in their establishments. The Senate is considering an amendment that would extend that to allow businesses to do the same with cars in their parking lots.

"That is part of an employer’s private property," said Sen. Steve Stivers (R., Columbus). "When two fundamental rights bump up against each other, we have an issue."

Click here to read the entire story in the Toledo Blade.

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