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Published: Thursday, 12/7/2006

House quickly votes to override Taft veto on gun bill

BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

COLUMBUS The Ohio House voted today to override Gov. Bob Taft s veto of a bill that restricts the ability of cities to pass their own gun laws and lifts a requirement that drivers keep their guns in open view during traffic stops.

The 71-21 vote was well above the three-fifths majority, or 60 votes out of 99 representatives, needed for an override.

It also came hours after Taft signed the veto, and it was the first time in the Republican governor s eight years in office that a chamber of the GOP-controlled Legislature has voted to override him.

The Senate is scheduled to meet next week. Senate President Bill Harris said in a statement he was still weighing options.

In an appearance this afternoon, Taft said the legislation passed swiftly last week by the Legislature exceeds its intention of cleaning up Ohio s concealed weapons law because it pre-empts about 80 local gun laws, including erasing local assault-weapons bans in place in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

Backers have defended the provision, urged by the powerful National Rifle Association, as bringing uniformity to a confusing patchwork of local gun laws. Taft disagreed.

The concealed-carry law is uniform and it will be uniform, and I m willing to work with the Legislature on improvements to the concealed-carry law, he said. We re not talking about the concealed-carry law here, we re talking about the pre-emption of all local gun laws with regard to, not carrying, but possession, purchase and sale of assault weapons. That s another matter.

The bill also lifts a requirement that drivers keep their guns in open view during traffic stops, allowing those who keep concealed handguns in holsters or purses to leave them in place as long as the approaching officer is informed. Proponents say the less guns are moved around, the safer people are.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol conceded to the change to its long-standing objection over the so-called plain-sight provision after securing stiffer penalties in the new bill for several violations of law related to guns and traffic stops.

Harris said in a statement that he believes the concealed-carry legislation Taft vetoed does a good job of protecting the safety of law enforcement officers while clarifying murky points.

This vast prohibition of local control is unwarranted and fails to consider the differing challenges and circumstances faced by different communities and regions of the state, said Taft.

The bill was supported across party lines in both legislative chambers and has largely been a dispute between urban lawmakers and their suburban and rural counterparts. The bill has more support among majority Republicans, but House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D., Columbus) said her caucus will not attempt to hold Democrats in line in opposition to an override.

The Buckeye Firearms Association accused the governor of being inconsistent when defending the home-rule authority of local governments. It suggested he should also veto a bill that he generally supports that is moving through the legislature to increase public access to local records.

This is an area of home-rule where local government is absolute and cannot be infringed, unlike firearm laws, said Ken Hanson, the organization s legislative chairman. State-level public records laws are a clear infringement on home-rule authority delegated to municipalities to the extent the state dictates to municipalities how to meet, what paper to keep, and who they must give it to.

Taft, who leaves office due to term limits in January, has vetoed only two other bills during his eight years in office.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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