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Published: Friday, 1/9/2004

Governor endorses Ohio gun measure

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft waited less than 24 hours to affix his signature to a controversial bill to allow Ohioans to carry hidden handguns on themselves and in their cars.

He signed the bill without fanfare, making Ohio the 46th state to pass concealed-carry legislation.

The law will take effect by mid-April.

County sheriffs could begin conducting background checks and verifying successful completion of firearms-training courses for permits after that date.

While allowing law-abiding citizens to legally carry hidden handguns for the first time, the law also establishes a patchwork of locations, such as day-care centers and liquor establishments, where guns would be off-limits.

A decade-old wall between the General Assembly and the governor s office over this issue collapsed this week after the House gave in to the governor s final demand that reporters be allowed access to the names and addresses of permit-holders in each county.

“Normally, you would expect 1 percent of the population to get a license to carry,” said Jim Irvine, spokesman for Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

“But with the whole debate on public records, there are people who will not get a concealed-carry license because of that provision,” Mr. Irvine added.

It remains to be seen whether anti-gun activists will attempt to put a repeal of the law on the ballot in November.

“Bottom line, those who were elected to keep Ohioans safe have instead set a policy that contributes to a culture of fear,” said Toby Hoover, of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

“The tragedy of gun violence has been sadly reduced to politics, when, in fact, gun violence is a public health epidemic,” he said.



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