Except for what it doesn’t do, a measure approved by the Ohio House that would end certain state restrictions on carrying concealed handguns is a bad idea. It would permit them in day-care centers, airport terminals, government buildings, and police stations. That’s unnecessary and risky.
In drafting the bill they passed last week, House members thankfully left out provisions that would greatly expand the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat before using lethal force. A rare dose of common sense might have prompted them to omit “stand your ground” provisions in their latest salvo to expand gun rights. But there’s still enough wrong with this bill for the state Senate to reject it.
The measure is the latest effort to roll back restrictions on where hidden handguns can be legally carried. Those restrictions were prudently put into place 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.
Among other things, the bill would allow drivers to enter school safety zones with guns. It would lift the prohibition against carrying guns into most government buildings, including public areas of sheriffs’ offices and police stations, and nonsecure airport terminals. Private businesses and property owners, including day-care centers, still could post their properties off limits to guns, as could government entities.
Still, lifting state restrictions is imprudent and risky. Why would anyone need a concealed handgun in a day-care center, where the risks of carnage grow to unacceptable levels? Or in a police station? This year, Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp installed metal detectors at the county jail to keep guns out.
Until now, concealed-carry laws, here and around the country, have worked fairly well — better than most gun-control proponents had predicted. The vast majority of permit holders use their privileges responsibly.
Since 2007, however, nearly 700 people nationwide — including 17 law enforcement officers — have been killed in non-self-defense incidents by people with permits to carry concealed weapons, according to the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit advocacy and education group.
The circumstances of these killings varied, but there is no compelling reason to aggravate such risks around young children. The dangers are compounded by the growing number of people with concealed-carry permits. More than 110,000 concealed-carry licenses were issued or renewed in Ohio last year. Most of them were new issues.
Proponents of the bill argue that it could prevent permitted gun holders from picking up an unwarranted felony conviction for, say, helping to carry luggage into an airport or getting out of their cars in front of a school to run after a son or daughter who forgot a lunch.
In reality, the chances of that happening are almost nil. But if remembering to remove weapons in certain areas that are off limits is inconvenient and troublesome, then tough beans.
Carrying a lethal weapon is a big responsibility. Anyone who thinks it’s too much of a bother to remember to comply with a few restrictions shouldn’t carry a gun.
If anything, keeping such restrictions in mind is a healthy reminder that carrying a lethal and concealed weapon is serious business. Ohio’s reasonable and prudent restrictions on concealed-carry should continue.
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