After a week of gun violence, House Republicans seek to expand concealed carry

By: - March 25, 2021 12:55 am
Gun rights advocate at rally

Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images.

After a spate of seven mass shootings around the U.S. in seven days, Ohio House Republicans introduced legislation that would allow Ohioans aged 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without a license.

House Bill 227, introduced Tuesday by Republican Reps. Thomas Brinkman and Kris Jordan and co-sponsored by 20 more, also contains other gun rights expansions including:

  • Removing the requirement that licensed gun owners “promptly” notify a police officer during a stop that they have a weapon in the car. They would only need to tell the officer about the weapon if asked.
  • Creating an expungement system for people previously convicted of concealed weapons offenses

Under current law, Ohioans must seek licensure from their local sheriff to lawfully carry a concealed weapon. They must complete eight hours of firearms training and complete a criminal background and mental competency checks.

Only fifteen states allow residents to carry concealed weapons without permits, according to analysis from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Constitutional carry bills like HB 227 have been introduced in every recent legislative session. However, gun advocates see this two-year session as critical, given it’s the last assembly comprised of members representing gerrymandered districts drawn on partisan lines that favor Republicans.

“This is the session in which we need to pass a constitutional carry bill,” said Rob Sexton, legislative affairs director of Buckeye Firearms Association, discussing the bill and redistricting in a podcast last month.

“This is the time to get it done.”

The bill’s introduction comes on the heels of seven mass shootings (four or more killed or wounded) in seven days in the U.S., according to a CNN report.

Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, declined to comment on the legislation while speaking to reporters Tuesday, saying he’s “reserving judgement” until he reads the bill. However, he generally affirmed his support for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The legislation is likely to face staunch opposition from gun violence prevention advocates. Research from the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies in 2019 found that “right to carry” laws are associated with a 13% to 15% higher aggregate violent crime rate 10 years after adoption.

Should the bill advance through the legislature, Gov. Mike DeWine could be a wildcard.

After nine died and 27 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, he pushed for a comparatively modest set of gun control measures like increasing gun crime penalties and expanding a current legal mechanism allowing a judge to temporarily seize weapons from people with substance abuse or mental health problems.

Lawmakers shelved the proposal and instead passed “stand your ground” legislation last year, removing the legal requirement to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. DeWine repeatedly raised concerns with the bill, but unexpectedly signed it in the “spirit of cooperation” with lawmakers, he said at the time.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said the governor has not yet taken a position on the legislation.

In 2004, Gov. Bob Taft signed Ohio’s constitutional carry program into law. Ohio Republicans expanded places where license holders can carry and decreased training requirements to obtain the license on multiple occasions since then.

In 2020, more than 169,000 Ohioans were licensed to carry a concealed weapon. More than 400 licenses were revoked for causes including felony convictions and mental incompetence, according to a report from the attorney general.



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Jake Zuckerman
Jake Zuckerman

Jake Zuckerman is a statehouse reporter. He spent three years chronicling the West Virginia Legislature for The Charleston Gazette-Mail after covering cops and courts for The Northern Virginia Daily.