Lawmakers in the Buckeye State on Wednesday gave a big thumbs up to a bill that would recognize permitless carry in Ohio.
In an easy 23-8 vote, state senators approved SB 215, a measure that codifies the right to carry without the mandate for a concealed carry license. It also tweaks the requirement to "promptly" inform a law enforcement officer during an interaction while carrying, replacing it with a duty to inform the officer only when asked.
The Senate bill now heads to the House for consideration. That body last month passed similar legislation, HB 227, in an easy 60-32 roll call.
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.
Both SB 215 and HB 227 have the support of national 2A groups such as the NRA and grassroots local advocates like the Buckeye Firearms Association.
"Senate Bill 215 allows a law-abiding adult who is at least 21 years of age, and legally allowed to possess a firearm, to carry a handgun without first having to obtain government permission," said the NRA on the proposal. "This ensures that citizens have the right to self-defense without government red tape or delays. Additionally, this legislation maintains the existing concealed handgun license system, so citizens who still wish to obtain a permit may do so."
Meanwhile, Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association, moved to explain the duty to inform language in the bill.
"The bill also clears up confusion in the current law about how and when to notify a police officer if you're carrying a firearm," said Rieck. "The bill specifies that you must notify an officer when the officer asks whether you are carrying a firearm or have one in your vehicle. This will make law enforcement encounters less stressful and safer for everyone."
Supporters stress that, between the two measures, "odds are good that one of these bills will move through the next series of hearings and be put before the Governor for his signature."
The move, if successful, would make Ohio the 22nd state to recognize such permitless carry laws. So far this year, five states – Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, Utah, and Texas – have adopted similar protections.