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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to allow people to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and no longer require them to notify law enforcement during proactively traffic stops that they’re armed.
Senate Bill 215, which passed the Senate 23-8, now heads to the Ohio House, which passed a similar but separate conceal-carry bill last month.
It’s unclear which of the two bills legislative leaders will decide to pass the general assembly and go to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk -- though Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, told reporters Wednesday that the Senate favors its bill over the House’s.
Both SB215 and House Bill 227 would allow anyone age 21 or older to carry a concealed firearm unless state or federal law prohibits them from possessing a gun. If either becomes law, Ohio will become the 22nd state to allow conceal-carry in public without needing a license, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Ohio currently requires conceal-carry applicants to take eight hours of training, pass a background check, and pay a fee, among other things.
Both bills would also no longer require motorists to tell law enforcement about concealed handguns in their vehicles, though drivers would still have to truthfully say whether they have a gun with them if an officer asks.
Right now, drivers who fail to pre-emptively notify an officer in Ohio that they have a gun with them face a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and suspension of their concealed-handgun license. The two bills would each eliminate that penalty.
Supporters of SB215 note that both the U.S. and Ohio constitutions guarantee the right to bear arms, and neither mentions anything about training requirements. They also say that so-called “constitutional carry” will make Ohioans safer by lifting restrictions on their ability to carry a concealed firearm.
Opponents argued that the bill would make Ohio less safe – both by allowing people to carry concealed firearms without needing any training or background checks and also by putting police in greater danger during traffic stops.
In recent years, the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly has passed several other measures to loosen requirements on concealed firearms, including allowing military service members and veterans to carry without a permit and removing the state’s ban on conceal-carry on college campuses and several other locations.
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