How many people in Lucas County have a permit to carry a concealed weapon? Don't ask the Sheriff's Department; it doesn't know. That's a problem.
County deputies recently encountered a man who was carrying a concealed weapon under his shirt as he was jogging. He had a concealed-carry permit. But while he was a county resident, his permit was from Florida.
It's all legal. Ohio has reciprocity agreements with 23 other states that allow permit holders from those states to carry their concealed weapons in Ohio. A few of those states, including Florida and Utah, issue permits to nonresidents.
Gun-rights groups say people opt for out-of-state permits because of Ohio's strict training mandate. Ohio requires applicants to attend 12 hours of instruction and pass a written and practical exam. That hardly seems excessive, but other states' laws are more lax.
Some people get permits from other states to avoid being listed in Ohio's law-enforcement database. As a result, local sheriff's departments and the Ohio Attorney General's office don't know how many Ohio residents have concealed-carry permits from Florida, Utah, or elsewhere.
Maj. Ronald Keel of the Lucas County Sheriff's Department said that lack of knowledge makes traffic stops more dangerous. When deputies stop a vehicle, they check the license plate before they approach the driver. But if an Ohio driver has a concealed-carry permit from another state, that information won't show up on their computer.
Visitors and travelers can drive in Ohio with out-of-state licenses, but must get an Ohio driver's license if they're going to live here. State fishing licenses have limited reciprocity. Ohio hunting licenses are not reciprocal at all. A permit to carry a concealed lethal weapon should be at least as strict.
Yet state lawmakers are considering weakening the permit laws even more. A proposed bill would require the state to accept permits issued by other states that recognize Ohio permits. Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, calls the bill a "lowest common denominator" approach to gun permits.
One solution to the hodgepodge of state laws would be to allow the federal government to set national standards for concealed-carry permits. That wouldn't sit well with gun-rights lobbyists, who say states should decide.
Groups such as Ohioans for Concealed Carry say it's OK for a clerk with a rubber stamp in Tallahassee or Salt Lake City to decide which Ohio residents can carry concealed weapons, because that's what Ohioans want. That doesn't seem likely.
Ohio residents who want to carry a concealed weapon should have an Ohio permit, not a permit from the Florida or Utah equivalent of a mail-order catalog.