While Ohioans outside the Statehouse worry about keeping their jobs and paying their bills, Republicans in the General Assembly are trying again to loosen the state’s gun laws.
Ohio’s law-enforcement community and restaurant and bar owners across the state strongly oppose the presence of concealed weapons in places that sell alcohol. But the GOP-controlled state Senate approved a bill last week that would allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits to take their firearms into such establishments.
For good measure, senators also passed a bill that would allow judges to decide whether a person convicted of a crime can possess firearms. Although similar bills died in the state House in the last session, the shift in partisan control of the House to the GOP has encouraged supporters to try again.
The concealed-carry bill allows guns in bars as long as their permit holders don’t drink. Who’s going to stop them? It’s ludicrous to expect waiters and bartenders to enforce such a prohibition.
The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police says many permit holders will drink because no one knows they’re packing. Then all it would take is someone to look at them the wrong way or start a heated argument that results in gun violence.
Supporters maintain the bill is necessary for personal protection. They also applaud provisions of the measure that would relax restrictions on how permit holders transport their loaded weapons while driving. Yet there is no broad public outcry for more guns in more places.
So why are lawmakers in such a hurry to satisfy fewer than 3 percent of Ohioans who have permits to carry hidden weapons in public, and the special-interest groups that lobby for them? Don’t lawmakers have anything better to do?