COLUMBUS - The Ohio Senate appears poised for a lame-duck session vote this week on a controversial bill allowing law-abiding Ohioans to carry concealed handguns.
While talks continue in hopes of working around Gov. Bob Taft's veto threat, the Senate Judiciary on Civil Justice Committee has scheduled multiple hearings with a possible committee vote Thursday.
The FOP, Ohio Highway Patrol, and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police oppose it.
“We've had lengthy in-depth discussions with the Senate about our concerns with the bill as it passed the House,” said FOP spokesman Mike Taylor. “We've said all along that we don't oppose the concept of concealed carry, but we believe it should be reasonable and responsible.”
He said the union is withholding judgment until it sees the proposed compromise expected today. The union has questioned the amount of training required, the types of places where guns could be carried, and a proposed affirmative defense allowing those stopped for illegally carrying a gun to avoid punishment by demonstrating they would have qualified for a permit if they had applied for one.
As currently worded, the bill would allow Ohioans who are at least 21 and have lived in the state at least 45 days to apply for permits to carry concealed handguns or have one in their cars. They would undergo criminal, mental health, and domestic violence background checks and must complete four hours of firearm training.
The bill passed the House in March with a bipartisan margin that could, if it held together, override a gubernatorial veto.
“We've done all kinds of things to get the support of the FOP and highway patrol,” Speaker of the House Larry Householder (R., Glenford) said. “Now they're talking about (requirements for) safe storage and even trigger locks. I don't think the governor is ever going to be for it.”
The General Assembly handed Mr. Taft a loss early in his term when it refused to consider a measure that would hold responsible adults who fail to safely store their firearms criminal if someone is injured by the weapons.
Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence of Toledo, said she does not believe FOP acquiescence will make a difference.
“I don't think that would be enough on its own,” she said. “The governor has promised all of us that he would veto the bill unless it has the support of all law enforcement. That's not going to happen, even if the FOP stops opposing it.”
Ohio is one of six states that does not allow the carrying of concealed handguns.
“There are people who fear guns and that will not change,” said Rep. Jim Aslanides (R., Coshocton), the bill's sponsor. “We would try to simply turn that fear around to the criminals because they have guns.”