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Published: Tuesday, 1/13/2004

New gun law spurs stream of inquiries

BY JAMES M. SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Though a new law allowing Ohioans to carry concealed handguns won t take effect until April, area sheriffs have begun hearing from people who want to get a permit.

Lucas County Sheriff James Telb said his office has had about 60 inquiries.

“They started even before the governor signed the bill,” he said.

The law, approved Wednesday and signed the next day by Gov. Bob Taft, requires sheriffs to approve a concealed-handgun license if the applicant completes 12 hours of training including two hours of live-fire training, pays a fee, and passes an exam.

Based on interest generated to date, Sheriff Telb predicts “a couple of thousand” Lucas County residents will seek a permit.

But he also doesn t believe the process will impede some people from carrying concealed weapons.

“I think there s a lot of people out there carrying firearms ... but who re not qualified to carry them,” Sheriff Telb said.

Hancock County Dispatcher Gretchen Moore said yesterday some callers expressed impatience about the delay before they can get a permit.

“They want to apply right away,” she said. “They actually want to fill out the form today.”

Ms. Moore said she s received six calls about the new law within the last two days.

“Apparently, there s a demand for it,” she said.

Defiance County Sheriff Dave Westrick, past president of the Buckeye State Sheriff s Association and its director at-large, said he s received about a dozen inquiries concerning the measure.

“A lot of them want to know when they can get the permits,” said Sheriff Westrick.

The Ohio Secretary of State s Office said the law takes effect April 8.

The state attorney general s office will set up the rules, and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy will develop the applications.

To receive a permit, applicants must not be convicted felons nor diagnosed as mentally ill. Rules also place restrictions on where the gun can be carried.

Allen County Sheriff Dan Beck expects a flood of applicants, although he believes the number of people who get one will represent a small percentage of the population.

“I thing initially we re going to probably have a fair amount of people who will want a permit,” Sheriff Beck said.

“The good citizens that we have will obey this law in every way,” Sheriff Beck said. “The bad guys will always carry a gun, whether they have a permit of not.”

Sheriff Telb and Sheriff Beck expressed concern the law may entail additional work because of the need for records checks, fingerprinting, and photographs.

“It s going to be some extra work for us,” Sheriff Telb said.

Ottawa County Sheriff Craig Emahiser said he has received no calls about gun permits since the law was passed.

When the law takes effect, he and other sheriffs could begin background checks and verifying that applicants have completed firearms-training courses.

Sheriff Emahiser said he expects the law to have little impact on law-enforcement officers. Many criminals will carry a concealed weapon whether the law allows them to or not, he said.

“Every traffic stop I ve ever made in my career, you make the traffic stop with the assumption that you re in danger, and that there s the possibility that somebody in the vehicle could take deadly action against you,” Sheriff Emahiser he said.



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