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House panel considering changes to concealed carry gun law

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Posted at 11:12 PM, Jun 19, 2019

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio House committee on Wednesday considered legislation opposed by law enforcement groups that would drop the requirement for people carrying concealed weapons to say they are armed during interactions with officers.

The bill sponsored by Republicans Rep. Ron Hood, of Ashville, and Rep. Thomas Brinkman Jr., of Cincinnati, would also eliminate requirements for firearms training, background checks and a license before people over 21 can conceal carry.

Wednesday morning, the House Federalism Committee approved a Republican-sponsored amendment requiring licensed firearm dealers to give gun purchasers a one-page leaflet on Ohio gun laws.

Later Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Larry Householder said he delayed a committee vote on the gun measure after gun owners expressed concern over the leaflet amendment. Householder said he wants that amendment removed.

Householder cited a drafting error in different gun legislation approved last year that gun rights advocates say could have inadvertently banned several types of legal guns.

Householder said on Facebook he doesn't want such "carelessness" to affect the concealed weapons measure.

The proposed bill eliminates the "duty to report" requirement that says someone carrying a concealed weapon must inform officers during encounters with law enforcement. It also says police would no longer have grounds to search or detain an "otherwise law-abiding person" for carrying a firearm.

Eliminating the training, background checks and the duty to report provisions rankles law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.

Delaware Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski, who represents the police chiefs group, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he wondered whether state representatives who support the bill spoke to anyone in law enforcement.

"Ask an officer if they're OK with this, and they'll tell you they are not," Pijanowski said.

Pijanowski said there needs to be a balance between Second Amendment gun rights, which he supports, and the safety of the public and law enforcement officers — which can be jeopardized whenever firearms are involved.

Residents and groups including the Columbus City Attorney's Office, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney's Association provided written testimony in opposition to the legislation, while pro-gun groups and other residents provided testimony in support.

In April, Hood and Brinkman told the committee law-abiding Ohioans have a "God given" right under the U.S. Constitution to carry firearms, The Columbus Dispatch reported then.

Current regulations and restrictions are not stopping violent crime and "only serve as barriers for law-abiding citizens who are trying to possess and carry weapons for self-defense and for the defense of their loved ones," Hood said.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's spokesman said on Wednesday that DeWine supports constitutional carry, meaning anyone who has the legal right to own firearms should be allowed to conceal carry, but wouldn't comment on the current version of the bill.