Another bill expanding concealed-carry rights has sailed through the state House and has a good chance of clearing the state Senate this session, possibly even before the summer recess. But state senators should reject this unnecessary and risky plan that would roll back reasonable restrictions on where hidden handguns can be legally carried.
Among other things, the bill would allow drivers to enter school safety zones with guns, though they could not carry them into schools. House Bill 48 would also lift the prohibition against carrying guns into most government buildings, including public areas of sheriff’s offices and police stations, and nonsecure airport terminals. It would eliminate state restrictions on carrying concealed weapons on college and university campuses across the state.
Areas where the risks of carnage grow to unacceptable levels should remain off-limits to concealed handguns, including police stations. Last year, Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp installed metal detectors at the county jail to keep guns out.
There were good reasons for including such restrictions when Ohio first legalized concealed-carry more than a decade ago.
Making matters worse, the state has, since then, weakened firearm training requirements for concealed-carry permits, and allowed many out-of-state concealed-carry licenses to be recognized in Ohio.
Rep. Ron Maag (R., Lebanon), a sponsor of the bill, has argued that those with permits to carry have “demonstrated that they have the capacity to carry a gun responsibly under Ohio law and should be able to do so without restriction.”
That makes as much sense as arguing that anyone with a valid driver’s license should be permitted to drive 120 mph.
To be sure, the vast majority of those with concealed-carry licenses in Ohio are responsible gun owners, as a peaceful open-carry walk at Bowling Green State University last Saturday underscored.
Nevertheless, too many guns can aggravate the risks of violence. Nationwide, since 2007, concealed handgun permit holders have been responsible for at least 873 deaths not involving self-defense, including 29 mass shootings that killed 139 people, the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, reported last week.
Last year, more than 145,000 concealed-carry licenses were handed out in Ohio — most of them new. That’s the largest annual number since the state started issuing permits in 2004.
Carrying a lethal weapon is an enormous responsibility — and so is enacting the laws that govern the use of such weapons. State senators should act responsibly and retain prudent restrictions on concealed-carry licenses by rejecting House Bill 48.
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