COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — In three months’ time, gun-owning Ohioans will not be required to carry a permit for their firearm.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law Monday a bill that would eliminate a concealed carry permit requirement for Ohioans 21 and over who are legally eligible to own and carry a firearm in the state, according to a news release from DeWine’s office. With the governor’s signature, the law will take effect in 90 days.
The governor’s signature of Senate Bill 215 comes about two weeks after the House of Representatives approved it in a 57-35 vote on March 2 and makes Ohio the 22nd state in the U.S. to allow permitless concealed carry, according to State Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), who sponsored the bill.
About 700,000 Ohioans have active concealed carry licenses, according to a February report from Attorney General Dave Yost’s office.
“Allowing people to carry a concealed firearm in public without any kind of training or background check requirements is only going to lead to more gun deaths in Ohio,” said Laura Robertson-Boyd, a volunteer leader with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The organization has been speaking out against Senate Bill 215, as has the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.
“Think about it — in Ohio, you need 24 hours of classroom training to drive a car and 50 hours of road training to drive a car and now we’re going to let people carry guns without any training whatsoever,” said Ohio FOP President Gary Wolske. “That’s a little bit tough for us.”
Under the bill, Ohioans would also no longer need to inform police officers with whom they are interacting that a concealed weapon is in their possession, according to the law’s text. Instead, police officers would bear the burden of asking the person if they have a concealed weapon, to which the gun owner must answer truthfully — or be slapped with a second-degree misdemeanor.
Proponents said the law is about people’s constitutional rights.
“Aa much as we are adamant about training and being physically and mentally prepared to carry a firearm, we are also just as adamant about the Constitution granting you and us all the right to carry a firearm and it doesn’t say after so many hours of training and after you pay the government fee and so forth,” said Eric Delbert, owner of LEPD Firearms Range and Training Facility.
Rob Sexton of the Buckeye Firearms Association, who spoke in favor of SB 215 before the Ohio Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee back in October, said the bill would remove “irrational and unnecessary” hurdles for law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their right to bear arms.
“A person who lives, works and drives through areas that have recently exploded in violence should not have to complete government paperwork, submit to a background check, take a class, and then wait on the government to exercise a right guaranteed by the state of Ohio,” Sexton said.
With spikes in violent crime, Sexton said Ohioans interested in owning a firearm and receiving firearm training are “at all-time highs.”
“People are genuinely and legitimately worried about their own safety and want to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Sexton said.
Michael Weinman, director of government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said dropping the notification requirement was “one of the critical points” that led the FOP to oppose SB 215.
“We see the notification as a commonsense measure to keep the permit holder and officer safe,” Weinman said.
He further expressed concern that eliminating the notification requirement could lead to “repeated denials” by concealed carry owners to comply with law enforcement’s inquiries about them possessing a firearm, putting officers in potentially dangerous situations.
“By essentially eliminating the CHL, the number of individuals carrying concealed handguns will undoubtedly increase. And with that increase, individuals who have not had any training have not been subject to a background check and can avoid a suspension or revocation by a sheriff,” Weinman said. “Will officers be faced with more gun violence?”