Ohio measure to expand concealed carry rights advances

Ohio Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, is backing a set of gun reforms that could affect the state's 400,000 concealed carry permit holders. (Photo: Lebanon Record)

Ohio Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, is backing a set of gun reforms that could affect the state’s 400,000 concealed carry permit holders. (Photo: Lebanon Record)

A bill that could allow Buckeye State permit holders to carry on school grounds, private aircraft and other places won the approval of a House committee this week.

The legislation, introduced by chamber Republicans in February, passed the House State Government Committee 8-2 on Wednesday and would drop many gun free zones across Ohio.

“It is meant to facilitate lawful gun ownership so that citizens are able to protect themselves and their family from crime,” said sponsor, Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon.

Maag’s proposal, HB 48, is an expansive 25-page measure that will drop bans on carrying lawfully concealed handguns in places such as day care facilities, school zones, unsecured areas of airports and police stations as defined as portions the public does not have access to, and on private non-commercial airplanes provided the property owner allows.

Public colleges and universities as well as state and local government buildings could also opt-in to repealing their own local gun prohibitions under the bill’s language.

An earlier version of the bill would have allowed carry in places of worship, but this was stripped in committee.

The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and Ohio Association of Police Chiefs as well as Moms Demand Action – who terms the legislation as dangerous – oppose the measure.

However, it has earned the support of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association as well as numerous national and state gun rights organizations.

“By allowing a potential victim to defend their own life in more places, it makes law-abiding citizens safer, deters would-be mass murderers and protects the public in general,” said Sean Maloney with the Buckeye Firearms Association.

The bill is a repeat of Maag’s HB 231, which was introduced last session but died without being put to a floor vote, but with a historic Republican majority in the House, the prospects for passage this time around seem more likely.

A positive House vote would send the carry rights expansion to the state Senate where the Republicans are holding 23 of 33 seats.

Finally, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, seen by many as either a potential GOP presidential nominee or running mate in 2016, is known for signing pro-gun legislation placed on his desk.