Bill would give concealed gun permit holders more protection, expanded permissions
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - If you have a concealed carry license, then you've gone through the necessary background checks and handgun training. But should that mean that CCW permit holders can go into "gun free" zones like schools and court houses with their weapon?
House Bill 233 has a lot of backing behind it. 51 representatives are cosponsoring it. State Representative John Becker of Union Township, Clermont County is sponsoring it.
Representative Becker said, "it decriminalizes the so-called 'gun free' zones for concealed handgun license holders."
The potential law would allow concealed handgun license owners to go into "gun free" zones without facing felony charges. Some of those zones include government buildings, childcare centers, and private businesses that post signs prohibiting guns.
"What I'm looking to do is protect who I like to refer to as 'Betty Buckeye'. That might be a lady who carries a gun in her purse, carries it every day to protect herself and her family," Becker said.
Joe Eaton with Buckeye Firearms Association added, "The main focus of it is to quit making criminals out of otherwise honest people, people that accidentally go inside of a government building, that's owned by the government. They should not be charged with a felony."
If the CCW permit holder is carrying a gun and doesn't leave when asked, then he or she could face a charge. It would be a misdemeanor carrying a potential penalty of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.
Opponent say the bill tramples on private property owners' rights.
Michele Mueller is with Moms Demand Action. Mueller says the goal is to decrease gun violence and save lives. "If the owner of the private property posts a sign that says guns are not allowed on this property, they literally would be allowed to have someone with a hidden loaded weapon would be allowed to walk onto that property," Mueller said.
Jennifer Thorne is Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. Thorne believes the bill is an effort by gun lobbyists to weaken laws and sell more firearms. Thorne said, "We don't have that many mandatory gun free zone's left. A lot of our businesses including our day care centers in our churches and our institutions of higher education is all decide whether or not they want to have guns there."
Both sides say they will be at the Statehouse to debate the bill in Columbus.
The bill also has a provision that states that once a gun owner is asked to leave a business, he or she will have 30 seconds to leave or face 30 days in jail. There's also a penalty for returning to the same location within 30 days with a concealed gun once a permit holder has been told that firearms are not welcome on the premises.