COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In the aftermath of an attack on Ohio State University’s campus, a bill could be passed in the Ohio Senate as early as Wednesday that would reduce the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor for having a gun on a university campus.
The bill, which has already passed the House, would also let universities decide whether to allow concealed carry handguns on campus.
All university-mandated rules prohibiting guns on campus would continue to remain in effect if the bill becomes law, but universities would now have the choice as to whether to keep those mandated rules.
A Senate committee could vote on the bill as early as Wednesday morning; if that happens, it would then be considered by the full Senate body Wednesday afternoon. But it isn't a guarantee the bill will be voted on, as more future revisions remain to be seen.
There needs to be broad support among all committee members before the bill will be voted on, Sen. Bill Coley, (R-Butler County), who chairs the Senate committee considering the bill, said.
"It may be ready tomorrow morning, or it might not be," Coley said. "If it's not ready, then we'll hold the bill until next week and work on it over the weekend."
Eleven people were injured Tuesday after police say Abdul Razak Ali Artan plowed a car into a crowd of people and launched into a knife attack before an OSU police officer killed him.
If the police officer had been farther away from the scene, more people could have potentially been hurt because of OSU’s gun-free zone, Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon), who introduced the bill last year, said.
“Where do (attackers) normally do their damage? They do it in a gun-free zone,” Maag said. “They don’t go to some place where they know someone is going to be carrying a gun. That’s probably the same thought with the guy who had the knife.”
The bill would also allow concealed-carry gun licensee owners to carry concealed guns in daycare centers and other places like airports and police stations.
Eighteen states ban carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Wyoming.
In 23 states, the decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university individually: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
While other local universities could not be reached for comment, Xavier University does plan on "looking into" the issue if the bill becomes law. Xavier University does not allow guns on campus.
Liam Niemeyer is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.