Ohio lawmakers advance bill to allow paramedics to carry guns

Several gun bills are being considered in the Ohio Legislature, including one that would permit trained paramedics to carry firearms while on duty.

Lawmakers gave initial approval Thursday to House Bill 79, a measure that would allow medical professionals who have received tactical firearms training to carry guns while on duty. The proposal passed out of committee and now heads for a full vote in the House.

Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, one of the bill’s sponsors, said that arming medics will allow them to defend themselves and will free up officers to deal with dangerous suspects.

Another proposal being considered is House Bill 253, which would allow law enforcement officials to carry concealed firearms into gun-free zones while off-duty. The measure had its first hearing on Tuesday.

Sponsor Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, said that off-duty cops should be allowed to protect themselves and others in areas where others are prohibited from carrying firearms.

“They’re trained professionals that know how to deal with horrid circumstances and quite frankly I think it’s in their best interest and the best interest of the public to use their expertise off duty as well as on,” Householder said.

Opponents, however, argued at the hearing that it should be up to property owners who carry guns on their premises.

A third gun bill was changed drastically this week when substitute legislation was proposed. House Bill 142 originally eliminated the penalty for concealed-carry permit holders who did not divulge they were carrying firearms to police officers when pulled over.

However, the new version completely reverses course and would make it mandatory for concealed-carry permit holders to not only tell officers if they are armed but to also present their permits to the officers.

Rep. Glenn Holmes, D-McDonald, sponsor of the new version of the legislation, argued police officers would appreciate being told when someone is legally carrying a concealed weapon.