DARKE COUNTY — Legislation aimed at easing regulations on concealed handgun licensees in the state was approved by the Ohio House of Representatives, 68-29, on Tuesday.
House Bill 48, sponsored by Representative Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and with 42 co-sponsors, would modify prohibitions against carrying a concealed handgun on college campuses, daycare facilities, aircraft, certain government buildings, public areas of airport terminals and police stations, and school safety zones.
Changes would also allow a sheriff to use concealed handgun license fee revenue to purchase ammunition and firearms.
The legislation still needs to clear the Ohio Senate and be signed into law by Governor John Kasich before becoming law.
If passed, the law would allow a person possessing a concealed carry license to possess a handgun on school premises as long as the weapon remains in a vehicle and that the vehicle is locked if that person exits. Currently, a licensee has to be in the act of picking up or dropping off a child at the school.
The proposal would eliminate restrictions on licensees picking up or dropping off children at daycare facilities.
The bill would allow licensees to carry in “public” areas of certain government facilities, such as police stations, sheriff’s offices, state highway patrol stations, and the like.
As well, concealed handgun carriers would be allowed to carry in public areas of airport terminals, short of passenger screening checkpoints and other secure areas. Modification of existing law would allow possession of handguns on privately owned airplanes.
The legislation gives colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning flexibility on whether or not to allow concealed carriers to carry handguns on campus. It also provides immunity to colleges for “any injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly was caused by or related to the institution’s decision to permit a licensee or class of licensees to bring a handgun onto the premises of the institution.”
The modifications to current Ohio law would not affect rules regarding the possession of weapons at federal government institutions, such as courthouses and post offices.
Upon the bill’s passage, co-sponsor Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) said, “Providing more options for safety in public areas is an important task in our state. I favor allowing Ohioans to protect themselves and find this bill to be an appropriate step forward because it still provides options for individual business owners to determine what is best for their business.”
Rep. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City), another co-sponsor of the bill, said, “House Bill 48 will provide some common sense law into concealed carry in the sense that, now, if a parent drops a child off at school with his concealed carry weapon, if he has to go into the school [for some reason], he will now be able to lock his gun into the glove compartment and not be in violation of the law.”
He added, “It reduces the penalty from a felony to a minor misdemeanor, which is a more appropriate level. It provides a little bit of common sense to those circumstances where concealed carry is not allowed.”
Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, agrees, saying the legislation will “fix defective laws.”
“It’s a good bill that fixes several problems that have existed for over 10 years,” he said. “We in Ohio are behind and out of step with other states’ concealed carry laws.”
Erik Martin may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.