Ohio state legislators advanced House Bill 48 to the Senate floor for a final vote this week, potentially giving colleges an option to allow concealed weapons on campus.
The proposal’s sudden legislative momentum follows last week’s attack at Ohio State University, where Abdul Razak Ali Artan plowed his car through a group of students and subsequently knifed them, injuring 11.
OSU police officer Alan Horujko shot and killed Artan two minutes into the attack. Investigators praise the officer’s quick actions for “likely saving lives.”
The proposal passed the state House last year, but has remained untouched in committee until news of the attack spurred Senate lawmakers into action.
The National Rifle Association, too, urged members to take action Tuesday in support of the bill, accusing “anti-gun groups of pushing misguided agendas” around the state capitol in order to defeat the measure.
“Without the use of a firearms to protect oneself, an individual is left at the mercy of law enforcement who often arrive after a violent crime has occurred,” the NRA said Tuesday. “Law enforcement response times vary depending on location and circumstances, but response times do not matter when individuals become victims of violent crime. Courts have even ruled that law enforcement officers are there to enforce the law and are under no obligation to defend individuals.”
The association said the “ultimate goal” of House Bill 48 is to “close current loopholes in the concealed carry regulations and ensure that law-abiding citizens are able to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
State Democrats argued, however, the “guns everywhere” bill goes too far by allowing firearms in police stations, daycares and airports. Others question whether armed civilians would further complicate active shooter situations.
State Rep. Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, said in an editorial published Tuesday there is “no evidence” mass shooters seek out gun-free zones, want to avoid law enforcement or even intend to survive the incident.
“Mass shootings are chaotic and highly stressful situations where it can be difficult to distinguish between victims and perpetrators,” Boggs said. “While the movies typically portray the good guy as someone easily discernible from the bad-guy, an active shooter emergency is not that straightforward. A well-intentioned civilian shooter could unwittingly increase the likelihood that innocent people, including himself, are injured or killed if they become involved.”
OSU President Michael Drake said last week he thinks only “trained professionals” should carry concealed weapons on campus.
If passed, Ohio would become the sixth state nationwide to give colleges the option to allow concealed weapons on campus, according to armedcampuses.org.