Sunday, June 22, 2003

About the bill: Gun-carry rules

Basic provisions of the concealed-carry bill (H.B. 12) passed by the Ohio Senate on Wednesday:

• To get a permit, applicants must be 21, and must have lived in Ohio for at least 45 days (30 days in county).

• They must pass a criminal background check by the sheriff, and must be fingerprinted (records are destroyed if the check is clear).

• Applicants must not have felony convictions (or violent misdemeanors within three years), have resisting arrest charges within 10 years, be a fugitive, have protection orders against them, or have been ruled mentally incompetent or defective.

• Before receiving permits, applicants must complete a 12-hour gun course (which includes two hours of shooting) and pay up to $45.

• Guns cannot be carried into any public building, airport terminal, mental or correctional institution, school safety zone, day care center, licensed liquor establishment or place of worship; private property owners may prohibit weapons.

• Permit holders must carry their permits and valid IDs while carrying their weapons.

• When stopped by law enforcement, a motorist must declare immediately that he is carrying a gun.

• Weapons in a car must either be holstered in plain sight or locked in a glove compartment or box, but must be locked away in any car carrying persons under age 18.

House members objected especially to the last restriction. As Sen. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, a gun-carry advocate who voted against the bill, put it, the law would tell criminals they could "go after car with kids, because they're going to have their guns locked up." The House also wanted expanded legal protections for Ohioans who don't have permits but might carry a gun when they are being threatened.

Lawmakers aim to reconcile the two versions by the time they take their summer recess. When a concealed-carry bill becomes law, Ohioans are unlikely to see a sudden flood of new guns on the street. The state's Legislative Service Commission estimates that only 3 percent of eligible Ohioans will eventually seek permits, which is in keeping with other states' experiences.

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