COLUMBUS Gov. Bob Taft is expected to veto a bill the Ohio General Assembly approved yesterday that would ease restrictions on those carrying concealed handguns while preventing Toledo and other cities from enforcing tougher gun laws.
It s likely the bill will be vetoed, said Taft spokesman Mark Rickel. For months, the governor has voiced concerns over the pre-emption part of the bill. Legislators have proposed far-reaching pre-emption provisions that would eliminate current laws on weapons, sales, and possession.
Although it has threatened at times, the General Assembly never has overridden a Taft veto, a relatively rare event. The bill passed with veto-proof margins of 19-10 in the Senate and 74-14 in the House, but it remains to be seen whether super-majorities would hold up when, or if, it comes to overriding the veto of a governor in his last days in office.
The issue crossed party lines and has largely been characterized as a dispute between urban lawmakers and their suburban and rural counterparts. Sen. Eric Fingerhut (D., Cleveland) characterized the bill as the death of home-rule.
Eighty local municipal ordinances passed by duly elected citizen legislators in each of our many home-rule counties will be wiped out by this bill today just because we don t like them, he said.
Among the ordinances in jeopardy are several in Toledo dealing with banning assault weapons and so-called Saturday Night Specials, requiring photo identification cards for gun owners, and gun storage requirements aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of children.
The sole no votes from northwest Ohio belonged to three Toledo Democrats: Sen. Teresa Fedor and Reps. Edna Brown and Peter Ujvagi.
Supporters of the law argued that local ordinances create a confusing patchwork of differing gun laws in the state.
We re not a city state, said Sen. Tim Grendell (R., Chester-land). We re the state of Ohio, where the constitution applies to every resident. You don t give up a right when you cross a municipal boundary ... We do not violate home-rule when we pass legislation that supports and reaffirms rights granted by the constitution.
The bill would ease restrictions in Ohio s 2-year-old law allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns on themselves and in cars, purses, briefcases, and backpacks after background checks and training. About 70,000 Ohioans have obtained concealed-carry permits.
This is all about helping law-abiding citizens to comply with the law and enjoy their constitutional right, said Sen. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana).
Supporters hoped they had satisfied Mr. Taft by addressing another of his concerns. The governor had threatened a veto if the bill killed a current law championed by the Ohio Highway Patrol that requires armed motorists to display their weapons in plain sight if their cars are stopped and approached by police. Yesterday, the Senate changed that language to allow motorists to keep their guns in purses, holsters, glove compartments, or some enclosed, unlocked container in the car in exchange for a stiffening of penalties for failing to promptly inform an officer that there is a loaded weapon in the car.
That prompted the highway patrol to adopt a position of neutrality on the bill, a barometer that in the past led Mr. Taft to drop his opposition to concealed-carry legislation. That apparently didn t work this time.
They were billing this as a clean-up of concealed carry, when in reality it was to push through pre-emption, said Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
There would be no [local] regulations of any kind on gun owners, which the gun lobby wants, she said. We knew they would be back for more. They don t want to be regulated, and the gun lobby said they d be back after the assault weapons ban was passed in Columbus.
The bill also would end Toledo s prohibition on carrying concealed guns into public parks in addition to government buildings, schools, and other locations deemed off limits under state and federal law.
Jim Irvine, of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said he believes Toledo misinterpreted the current concealed-carry law when it successfully prosecuted Bruce Beatty for carrying a concealed 45-caliber handgun into Ottawa Park in West Toledo. The conviction, the result of a stunt to mark the one-year anniversary of the concealed-carry law, was upheld by the Toledo-based 6th District Court of Appeals and is being appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Any state-owned building is prohibited for a license-holder to carry, like the Statehouse building or rest areas, but they can t do it for property, he said. Buildings can be posted. Property cannot be posted.
What we have found since passage of concealed carry is that the number of instances where a gun was used successfully to defend one s self or used carelessly has been minimal, said Toledo police Chief Mike Navarre. There isn t enough data for anyone to reach any objective opinion as to whether the law has been successful or not.
My real concern is about guns being left in a house accessible to children, he said. Not a year goes by when we don t have a child getting hold of a loaded gun.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.