Kasich signs bill easing gun storage


COLUMBUS — As expected, Gov. John Kasich on Thursday quietly signed into law a bill making it easier to store guns in vehicles and allowing them for the first time in parking garages under the Statehouse and the nearby state office tower housing his offices.

The governor resisted calls for him to veto the bill in the wake of last week’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut, which has prompted a national conversation on gun laws. In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, earlier this week vetoed a bill that was more directly on point, because it would have allowed the carrying of concealed pistols into schools and other pistol-free zones.

“These horrific events have happened in recent times with more frequency than we would like to acknowledge, and the murders of innocent children and teachers have strengthened the cries for change and reflection,” Ohio Rep. Tracy Heard (D., Columbus) said. “Rather than rushing to sign legislation that weakens our gun laws, we must use this time for a full inclusive reflection.”

The governor, a Second Amendment supporter, issued no statements on Thursday’s signing of House Bill 495 or others. But on Wednesday, at an event commemorating what he considers his 2012 accomplishments, he again urged patience in waiting to see what comes from the debate.

“Experts are going to look at this, and they’re going to come back and make recommendations on a whole host of things,” he said.

Unlike Michigan’s bill, the Ohio bill does not address schools, which are still off-limits to the carrying of concealed handguns.

In addition to allowing guns in the Statehouse and Riffe Center parking garages in Columbus, House Bill 495 makes it easier for “unloaded” guns to be stored generally in vehicles. The bill still requires ammunition to be removed from the gun, but ammunition can be stored as close to the gun as the same container with a separate enclosed compartment.

It remains to be seen how the deaths of 26 Sandy Hook students, teachers, and administrators will affect what gun-rights supporters have said is their next goal — requiring Ohio to recognize concealed-carry permits issued by other states.

Language dealing with that was removed from House Bill 495 the day of its final passage in the Senate and House.