The truth about HB450 (what the Columbus Dispatch doesn't want you to read)

By Jim Irvine

The Columbus Dispatch editorial "Kowtow to the NRA – Sheriffs got a raw deal when lawmakers backed down on concealed carry fee" demonstrates that the Dispatch editors are still more interested in spreading lies to prop up their failed ideas rather than accepting the truth and reporting the news.

It is important to note that the Dispatch has been contacted many times by Buckeye Firearms Association leaders about gun-related stories full of errors, omissions, or lies. That they continue to write stories that are factually inaccurate proves they are intentionally attempting to mislead their readers about firearms and the legislative process.

From the story:

The sheriffs of Ohio's 88 counties, who administer this program, found that the fees were not covering their expenses, so state lawmakers prepared a remedy in the waning days of their session this month: an increase in the fee from $55 to $67 -- $12 more for a license that is valid for five years.

I doubt if the Dispatch would be so outraged if we helped kill such a large increase in fees for gasoline tax, drivers licenses, or even business licenses. Still, if this is what the amendment had actually proposed to do, it might have passed. And I say that even keeping in mind that would be nearly a 22% increase in fees for concealed handgun licenses (CHLs).

Current language sets the price for a CHL at $55. If one wanted to accomplish a fee increase, they could change "55" to "67" and be done with it. Ahhh – but that is NOT what the sheriff’s amendment did. They sought to delete the entire section on fees from Ohio law and replace it with a completely different and vague fee structure, which would have resulted in charging citizens more in exchange for giving licenses away to retired law enforcement.

The amendment in questions would have CHL applicants pay "a fee of forty dollars plus the actual cost of having a background check performed..." plus an "administrative fee" (which is what was capped at "not more than five dollars and not less than three dollars.")

Clearly capping one fee at $5, then charging $40 on top of that, and tacking on an unknown charge on top of that is not the simple $12 increase someone is trying to sell.

What is the "actual cost" of a background check? Does it count the sheriff’s hourly labor rate to run the check? What about payroll taxes that must be paid for that labor? What if the sheriff performed overtime? Would you now get charged time and a half? If the Sheriff himself performs the check does it cost more than if a rookie does the same job? No one knows – and that, my friends, is why the legislators became so uncomfortable with a hastily written amendment and removed it from a good bill.

In a move akin to pouring salt in the wounds of the taxpayers who may or may not support concealed carry, and while the sheriffs were attempting to sell the fee increase as a necessity due to "budget woes", they tried to start giving away licenses for free to their friends. Their amendment would waive the license fee for "an applicant who is a retired peace officer..." If this is how they run their business, no wonder they are having budget problems!

Nearly five years into our successful concealed carry law, gun advocates have not "turned a deaf ear to the sheriffs," as the editorial asserts. Much like the Dispatch, the sheriffs (who also have our phone numbers) never called us. Their mistake, because when we work together, everybody wins. For example, Buckeye Firearms Association supported HB347, which increased the license fee from $45 to $55. By extending the license from 4 to 5 years, we kept the same per year cost to the CHL, and reduced the sheriffs workload by making renewals less frequent.

Buckeye Firearms Association looks forward to working with the new legislature and all interested parties as we continue to make our laws better for all Ohioans.

Jim Irvine is Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

UPDATE: A letter to the Dispatch editor from Irvine has been published, but a follow-up Editor's Note proves the Dispatch is still either ignorant of the facts (which is hard to believe considering all the communication we've had with them), or intentionally misleading readers:

Last Monday's Dispatch editorial, "Kowtow to the NRA," is full of errors and omissions. It stated that House Bill 450 would have raised fees for a concealed handgun license by $12. That number appeared nowhere in the bill.

The amendment in question sought to completely redo how license fees are charged, with no limit on the cost borne by the applicant. Senators originally voted on a cap on administrative costs. But when the Buckeye Firearms Association brought the actual wording to their attention, they overwhelmingly agreed with us and removed the offensive language.

The editorial stated that sheriffs "found that the fees were not covering their expenses" but failed to defend giving licenses to a bunch of law-enforcement officers for free. Maybe because it's indefensible, especially while asking Bruce and Betty Buckeye to pay for it.

Law enforcement derives its powers (and budgets) from the people. The editorial seemed to have that backward. Gun owners have many issues that need to be addressed.

Law enforcement has needs, too, but with citizens being told to "wait till next session," it would be inexcusable to let government agencies jump in front of citizens with their wish lists. The General Assembly said it would review all parties' issues early next session. That is good policy and it's a shame The Dispatch can't report actual events without bias against gun owners.

Jim Irvine
Buckeye Firearms Association

Editor's note: Ohio House Bill 450 specified a fee of $40 to apply for a concealed-carry license plus the cost of a criminal-background check. For those who have lived in Ohio five years or more, the check costs $27. Such applicants currently pay a fee of $55 and are charged nothing extra for the criminal-background check.

Chairman Irvine has submitted a follow-up letter to the Dispatch to correct them once again:

Thanks for running my editorial.

Regarding your editors note, you are still wrong. At the very least, you are missing the new additional "administrative" fee "of not more than five dollars and not less than three dollars" that is in addition to any other fees. Even using your numbers, you get $70-72.

Has anyone there actually read the bill? HB450 did NOT specify $40 "plus the cost of a criminal-background check." Nor did it list $27 anywhere. It said, " the actual cost of having a background check performed..." (emphasis mine) There is a huge difference.

You are mistakenly arguing that it was an actual fee with a set amount. The language in questions was vague and ambiguous. Not one legislator we talked to could tell us what it costs to "perform" a background check. Does it include labor of the Sheriff officer? Overtime? Payroll taxes? The bottom line is that it was poorly drafted and unclear. Passing it was a mistake. That is why the bill was pulled down and re-voted.

Come on - Even you can't really believe that Senators Roberts and Sawyer are "minions" of the NRA. (smile)

Jim Irvine

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