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Published: Thursday, 7/26/2001

House wrangles over bill allowing concealed weapons

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - A proponent of giving Ohioans the right to carry concealed handguns dared lawmakers yesterday to send Governor Taft a bill, knowing he has vowed to veto it unless it first wins the support of law enforcement.

“I don't think you have the guts to send HB 274 to the governor to get his veto,” Karl Spaulding of Columbus told a House subcommittee. “I would love to see that.”

State Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin (R., Aurora), subcommittee chairwoman, said she plans to send an amended bill to the full House Civil and Commercial Law Committee this fall. That committee's chairman, state Rep. John Williamowski (R., Lima), said he'll call for a full committee vote as soon as he knows he has the votes for passage.

Pushed by the National Rifle Association, the bill attempts to find a politically palatable compromise. But the attempt to move toward the middle has gained opposition from gun-control advocates and the most ardent defenders of the Second Amendment.

The latter group prefers a stalled measure proposing a law similar to that in Vermont, broadly allowing citizens to carry firearms as long as they are not otherwise prohibited from doing so.

The compromise version, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Aslanides (R., Conshocton), would allow citizens to receive permits to carry concealed handguns as long as they pass criminal, mental health, and domestic violence background checks, and undergo firearm training.

“The hearing process on concealed weapons continues, but to pinpoint when a vote might occur is premature. We haven't seen what the final bill will be,” said Jen Detwiler, spokeswoman for House Speaker Larry Householder (R., Newark).

Ohio would be the 45th state to enact some form of concealed carry legislation.

“As an African-American woman, it disturbs me that time after time ... there are no blacks and Hispanics on the other side of the issue,” said Julie Eichorn of suburban Columbus, an activist against guns.

“It makes me wonder who these gentlemen really want to arm themselves against,” she said. “If I'm at the mall with my children and I reach into my purse in a suspicious way to get my lipstick, will I be shot?”

The Ohio Highway Patrol and the state Association of Chiefs of Police remain opposed to it, while the Federation of Police union has sought additional restrictions on who may carry a weapon and where they may take it.

The Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, whose members would issue the permits, supports the bill.



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