By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS | AP Legal Affairs Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A series of proposed gun laws would expand concealed weapons in Ohio by potentially allowing them in places like churches or day cares and letting certain gun owners carry concealed weapons without a permit.
The House State Government Committee heard initial testimony on several measures Wednesday afternoon. No votes were taken.
One bill would allow concealed weapons in certain places as long as written authorization permitting the concealed carry of handguns is in place. If certain places don't allow them, like day cares or colleges, it would make accidentally bringing a concealed weapon to such a place, a parent taking a child a forgotten lunch, for example, a misdemeanor, instead of a felony with the potential loss of the permit.
The bill “would prevent law-abiding citizens from unintended law-breaking in many circumstances,” said committee chairman and bill sponsor Ron Maag, a Republican from Lebanon.
Another bill would allow residents 21 and older, and not barred by federal law from having a firearm, to carry a concealed firearm that's not restricted in the state. Some Ohio gun owners may still want a concealed-carry license because it allows them to carry in states that honor the permits through reciprocity agreements.
“This bill simply restores Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed firearm in Ohio without having to first obtain the government's permission in the form of a permit or license,” said bill sponsor Rep. Ron Hood, a Republican from Ashville.
Lawmakers have recently loosened requirements for concealed weapons. Last year, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law that reduced the training time to get a concealed weapons permit from a minimum of 12 hours to eight, including two hours devoted to range time and live-fire training.
Other gun-related bills before the committee would:
- Ban the seizure of a gun from someone legally entitled to possess it unless police believe it's necessary for safety or evidence purposes. The legislation also bans the establishment of a firearm registry. Cleveland City Council passed a law last month requiring gun offenders to register with the city.
- Clarify the ability of someone with a concealed handgun permit to possess a handgun in a school safety zone.
- Require the state standards board to adopt rules for schools using barricade devices on doors in emergencies, and to prohibit the banning of such devices under the state fire code. The bill is directed at schools' security efforts in case of an active shooter.
The bill expanding where a concealed weapon could be carried includes colleges and universities, houses of worship, day care facilities, planes, certain government facilities, public areas of airport terminals and police stations.