The Buckeye State is on the way to becoming at least the 22nd to recognize only the Second Amendment is needed to carry a concealed firearm.
The Ohio House Government Oversight Committee on Thursday passed a permitless carry measure, HB 227, in an 8-4 vote. Supporters characterize it as the most significant 2A bill to advance in the legislature in years.
"This bill supports the constitutional rights and freedoms of law-abiding Ohioans," said Committee Chairman, state Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro). “Criminals aren’t going to follow the law. I proudly stand in support of ensuring law-abiding Ohioans are able to protect themselves and their loved ones."
Ohio has about 700,000 active concealed handgun licenses according to the most recent data, and HB 227 does not eliminate the popular program. All it does is make the licenses optional for those looking to carry a concealed firearm. Ohioans traveling to another state, for instance, could still obtain a license-- recognized in at least 36 other states-- for reciprocity purposes.
While groups like police unions and anti-gun organizations criticize the measure as, under its provisions, those seeking to carry without a permit will not have to take state-approved training classes beforehand, Wilkin said such pearl-clutching is overblown.
"I’ve been asked why Ohio would no longer require training or permits in order to carry a concealed firearm,” Wilkin said. "My answer is I respect the constitutional rights of Ohioans and I trust them to handle firearms safely and responsibly. The fact is, most gun owners are trained, skilled and knowledgeable about firearms."
"The best part about HB 227 is its clear-cut simplicity," explained BFA Executive Director Dean Rieck. "Under HB 227, anywhere you can currently carry with a license, you will be able to carry without one. This clarity should allow for quick approval by the full House."
Other states recognizing the right of law-abiding individuals to carry a concealed handgun without a government-issued permit include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, almost all of which adopted such laws in the past 20 years.
“Contrary to popular myth, states enacting permitless carry do not devolve into the wild, wild West,” said Scott Jones, director for Wisconsin’s NRA affiliate. “We’re not seeing saloon shootouts in the 21 states that have passed permitless carry."