Sunday, December 8, 2002

Concealed-gun bill backfires

By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - A bill to allow Ohioans to carry hidden guns is dead because of restrictions put in by the Senate, including a requirement for fingerprinting, House Speaker Larry Householder said.

He also said the House, which adjourned Friday, would not return next week even if the Senate dropped the changes it made to the bill.

The session won't end until the end of December, but Mr. Householder said there was no chance representatives would be asked back. The House would have to start over on a bill in January.

The concealed weapons proposal would allow Ohioans 21 or older who pass a background check and safety courts to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Ohio would join 44 other states that have some form of conceal-carry law.

The Senate added fingerprinting to the criminal background checks on applicants and set at 12 hours the amount of firearms training people would need before getting a permit. The state would have to build a computer database that lists all permit holders and make it available to authorities outside Ohio.

"We had model legislation in Ohio that other states were going to use - a fantastic bill," said Mr. Householder, a Republican from Glenford. "It goes over to the Senate and what we're about to get back is the most cumbersome, restrictive conceal-carry bill in the country. So we think we've got a problem."

Senate President Richard Finan, an Evendale Republican, did not return a call seeking comment.

Lawmakers also reached agreement on legislation that would have removed a requirement for their campaigns to file electronic finance reports beginning in January.

After talks with Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's office, a House-Senate committee extended the deadline until March 1, 2004. The agreement also includes a pledge by Mr. Blackwell to work with campaigns to make the filing smooth.

Mr. Blackwell was satisfied with the agreement, spokesman Carlo LoParo said.

"Secretary of State Blackwell's primary objective was to reinstate mandatory electronic filing for state and legislative candidates," Mr. LoParo said.

The agreement now goes to the Senate.

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