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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Legislation introduced to clear up concealed carry statute

This is from the Buckeye Firearms Association's latest e-version newsletter: Representative Terry Johnson introduces HB495 (Reciprocity & Concealed Carry Modernization) by Jim Irvine Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) has introduced HB495, a bill designed to reform Ohio concealed carry law to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and continue a trend toward making Ohio law similar to other states. Currently, the gun laws in the Ohio Revised Code contain a number of ambiguities, and a number of "poison pill" provisions that have created confusion for law-abiding Ohioans, law enforcement agencies and the courts. Nine years ago, Governor Robert Taft refused to sign Ohio's concealed carry legislation unless it contained language to address so-called "safety concerns" of anti-gun activists. None of these provisions have proven helpful in protecting public safety, nor is there any evidence they have reduced gun-related crime. Once adopted, HB495 would eliminate hundreds of words from the Ohio Revised Code without making any material changes. This will make the law easier to read, understand, comply with and enforce – a win for everyone. "This important legislation addresses real problems with Ohio law," said Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, a grassroots gun advocacy organization. "It continues the trend to remove problems and align Ohio law with commonly understood concepts." In addition to that technical fix, the bill would make three changes to Ohio law. First, Ohio would join many other states in automatically honoring other state's concealed carry licenses, and allowing the Attorney General to sign more agreements with other states. Second, HB495 would also remove a vague and unenforceable "demonstrated competency" requirement, and third, the law would clarify the definition of a "loaded gun." The changes to the definition of a loaded gun are critical to all gun owners. Any gun owner—and most lay people—know that a gun is "loaded" when it has ammunition inserted into it. A detached magazine doesn't become a loaded gun when there is ammunition in it any more than the cardboard box it's sold in does. But Ohio law mistakenly defines a loaded magazine in a car as a loaded gun, even though the magazine, on its own, has no firing pin and no ability to fire a bullet. A gun magazine is simply a detachable device that stores and feeds ammunition into a semi-automatic firearm. With national shooting matches taking place every year in Ohio it is critical to fix this error in Ohio law. Like a driver's license, most states consider a current or expired license to serve as proof that you have (where required) completed required training. Ohio does not require any recurrent training. But after the first renewal, license holders must "demonstrate competency" before they can apply for their third license. Early in 2013, this will start affecting license holders and must be amended this year to avert major confusion. License holders, instructors and sheriffs have begun to ask questions about exactly what is required for this competency demonstration. Currently, there is no definition in Ohio law. There is no related class by either the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) or the National Rifle Association (NRA) that is designed to fulfill this requirement. In short, no one knows what is required, but many attorneys say that all the law requires is simply to demonstrate to an instructor that you are competent. Draw a gun, fire some shots, and you are done. But professional firearms instructors are understandably concerned about "certifying" a person as competent with such ambiguity in the law. "I am deeply honored to sponsor this particular bill, as it is much needed," said Rep. Johnson. "It is highly substantive and goes far to simplify something that has been needlessly complicated. I will miss no opportunity to unburden Ohioans as they strive to exercise their basic constitutional right to keep and bear arms." Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman. - Jeffrey L. Frischkorn Twiter: @Fieldkorn


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