[UPDATE!] Landmark firearms legislation passes Ohio Senate (Vote Tally, Bill Summary)

The Ohio Senate has passed amended substitute House Bill 234 by a 24 - 6 vote. The bill will now head back to the House for a concurrence vote and on to the Governor.

Earlier today, the Senate Civil Justice Committee, by a vote of 8-2 (with Democrat Sens. Skindell and Brown voting agains it), passed the bill out of committee. The committee has held numerous hearings on multiple firearms-related bills dating back to the spring of 2014 and have stepped up hearings in the lame duck session. The committee combined many provisions from these various firearms bills into this one piece of legislation.

Before the bill passed on the Senate floor one amendment was agreed to, specifying that the expiration of a criminal sentence does not restore firearm rights. Senator Charleta Tavares (D) brought a floor amendment to which sought to add "mandatory safe storage of firearms" into the bill, but the amendment was tabled.

Senators Bill Coley (R) and Joe Uecker (R) rose to speak in favor of the bill. Senators Mike Skindell (D), Joe Schiavoni (D) and Nina Turner (D) rose to speak against the bill.

As passed by the Senate, amended substitute HB 234 makes a significant number of changes, such as allowing the use of suppressors while hunting, aligning concealed carry with laws for firearm possession, correcting the definition for automatic firearms, reducing the number of hours of training required to obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL) and much more.

The  bill, as passed by the Senate, can be viewed here. Following are some of the details:

Hunters will be able to use suppressors while hunting. There was strong support for this from NRA, Buckeye Firearms Association, American Silencer Association, and sportsmen who will benefit from the reduced noise.

Coinciding with the suppressor language, those who want to buy a $200 tax stamp and get a suppressor will be able to have a sheriff conduct a background check as though one were applying for a CHL. If a person passes the background check, the sheriff will sign the Federally required paperwork. The purchaser will then send this paperwork to the BATFE to begin the Federal process.

The disqualifications for obtaining a CHL will be generally aligned with State and Federal law for possessing a gun. Currently there are those who are prohibited from possessing firearms who can still qualify for an Ohio CHL. However those with very minor records and can own a firearm may still not qualify for a CHL. This bill would make Ohio law more similar to standard practice throughout the country.

Ohio's background checks will be strengthened. Better background checks enable sheriffs to know they are granting CHL's to people who qualify for one. This change will help Ohio get reciprocity with Texas and possibly other states who refuse to sign agreements with Ohio because of the holes in our current background checks.

The application for a CHL will be deleted from Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and will be maintained by the Attorney General. This allows the A.G. to make needed changes in a timely manner instead of waiting for the legislative process. Removing words from code without changing the law is good policy.

Sheriffs will be permitted to use CHL funds for training. Many sheriffs conduct firearms training classes. These include CHL, hunter education, and Eddie Eagle classes.

The definition of an automatic firearms will be corrected to match what the Federal government and every other state define as an automatic firearm: a firearm that fires more than one round per pull of the trigger.

People who live outside Ohio but work in Ohio will be able to apply for an Ohio CHL in the county where they work or any adjacent county. OPOTC training will satisfy the training requirement and DD-214's will now be accepted for 10 years vs. the current 6 years after issuance.

Currently, it is not a violation of Revised Code section 2911.21 (trespassing) to have a firearm in a "no guns" posted parking lot under state law. This bill clarifies that having a firearm in a posted parking will not be trespass under any criminal law, not just 2911.21.

There are multiple sections of ORC that deal with restoration of rights. The problem is that some sections don't recognize other sections. Persons have rights "restored" and then find out that this restoration of rights does not "count" for other sections of law. This conflict and confusion will be corrected.

Ohio citizens will be permitted to buy a long gun in any state. Currently Ohio citizens may only buy long guns from five contiguous states. That limitation dates back to the 1970's before the NICS background check system. The bill would recognize that background checks are much improved. (Purchases of handguns are still limited to state of residence by Federal law.)

An Ohio license will not be revoked/suspended if a license holder moves out of state. It will remain valid until the state date of expiration. This is important because it allows time to apply for a license in the new state of residence.

Under the bill, completing OPOTA (law enforcement) training will satisfy the requirements of the training to obtain a CHL, as will military training obtained with 10 years of the application. For everyone else, required training to obtain a CHL would change to eight (8) hours, which would still be above the national average.

We thank Chairman Coley, President Faber, Senator Obhof, Senator Uecker, and all who voted for Sub Bill HB 234. Their leadership in passing vital reform will set good policy for the State of Ohio.

We also thank the bill's sponsors Representative's Cheryl Grossman and John Becker, and Terry Johnson and Anne Gonzales for work on their respective bills which were combined into the sub bill.

Media Coverage:

Associated Press Ohio Senate passes changes to state weapons laws

Cleveland Plain Dealer -Ohio Senate approves loosening rules for concealed-weapons permits, hunting silencers

Columbus Dispatch - Committee passes bill allowing hunters to use gun suppressors 

Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said that silencers are a safety protection for hunters. “Anytime you’re shooting a gun idea to wear hearing protection.” Since hunters can’t do that, silencers are the next best thing to protect their hearing, he said.

Other provisions in the bill will require Ohio to recognize concealed-carry gun licenses issued by other states, and reduce training requirements for conceal carry licenses. 

Dayton Daily News - Senate OKs gun, fireworks bills

Toledo BladeSenate OKs easing concealed-carry law


The question recurred, "Shall the bill, Sub. H. B. No. 234, pass?"

The yeas and nays were taken and resulted - yeas 24, nays 6, as follows:

Those who voted in the affirmative were: Senators

Bacon
Balderson
Burke
Cafaro
Coley
Eklund
Gardner
Gentile
Hite
Hughes
Jones
Jordan
Kearney
LaRose
Lehner
Obhof
Oelslager
Patton
Peterson
Schaffer
Seitz
Uecker
Widener
Faber-24.

Senators Brown, Sawyer, Schiavoni, Skindell, Tavares, and Turner voted in the negative-6.

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