A law expanding concealed carry went into effect Monday in Ohio.
Gov. John Kasich signed Senate Bill 199 on Dec.19, giving colleges the authority to allow concealed weapons on campus and expanding the places permit holds can legally carry, to include day cares, schools and airports.
The law also allows for concealed carry permit holders to store their weapons in cars parked on business property where weapons may otherwise be banned. Lawmakers threw out a provision adding concealed carry permit holders to the protected class status under the state’s anti-discrimination law after business groups argued it infringed on employers’ rights.
“This is important,” said Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association. “Because, previously, if a business bans guns at work, including parking lots, employees are essentially banned from having their firearm all day, and are defenseless from the time they leave home in the morning until they return home in the evening.”
The state’s concealed carry laws came into focus after the Nov. 28 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.”
Both SB 199 and another proposal containing the language that ultimately led to optional campus carry statewide, House Bill 48, moved through their respective committee assignments within a week of the attack, much to the dismay of gun control advocates who argue the new “guns everywhere” law increases danger.
“If guns really made you safer, we should be the safest country on the planet but we’re not,” said Laura Cutilletta, managing attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in an interview with Cleveland.com.
Rep. Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, in December penned an editorial for the Columbus Dispatch slamming campus carry as misguided because “no evidence” exists that mass shooters seek out gun-free zones, want to avoid law enforcement or even intend to survive the incident.
“A well-intentioned civilian shooter could unwittingly increase the likelihood that innocent people, including himself, are injured or killed if they become involved,” she said.
Gun rights advocates eschew the image of an irresponsible and inexperienced concealed carry permit holder, insisting the opposite is true.
“For well over a decade, Ohioans with a Concealed Handgun License have proven themselves to be overwhelmingly law-abiding and trustworthy,” Rieck said. “And SB 199 makes welcome improvements that citizens deserve.”
Concealed carry permits increased nearly 65 percent in Ohio last year, according to state data released earlier this month.
The attorney general’s Concealed Handgun Law Annual Report shows the state issued 158,982 regular licenses in 2016: 117,953 new licenses and 40,986 renewals.
It’s the busiest year for concealed carry since the law passed in 2004 — smashing the 2013 record of 96,972 new licenses by more than 20 percent.
Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System show more than 12,000 Ohio residents applied for concealed carry permits last month, down 21 percent from last year, but still 8 percent above January.
Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman Jim Irvine told the Columbus Dispatch earlier this month the increasing interest proves it’s more than just “gun people” applying for licenses.
“It’s about safety, not just guns,” he said. “Having a smoke detector isn’t about smoke detectors; it’s about safety. Wearing a seat belt is about safety. People are starting to see that, but with guns.”