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Ohio lawmakers consider changes to concealed carry rules

Debate over concealed carry continues at Ohio Statehouse.

A bill at the Ohio Statehouse could expand the areas in which licensed Ohioans can practice concealed carry.

The bill, H.B. 48, passed 68-29 in the Ohio House of Representatives in November. The vote was primarily along party lines, although four House democrats voted in favor. The bill is currently being reviewed in committees in the Ohio State Senate.

The bill would modify the areas in which people with licenses could carry firearms and would authorize universities to allow concealed carry on campus. The bill would also give institutions of higher education immunity in terms of liability in certain circumstances.

"The university is monitoring House Bill 48 as it works through the legislative process," Eric Burchard, director of government relations at Ohio University, said. "If or when the bill becomes law, we will analyze the impact on University policies and procedures."

Students for Concealed Carry has supported campus concealed carry since its founding in 2007.

Mike Newbern, the Ohio director and a national board member of Students for Concealed Carry, delivered a testimony in support of the bill last year.

“We don’t want to change the law with respect to who can carry or what they can carry. We just want to change where someone who is licensed to carry can do so in the state of Ohio,” Newbern said.

Last June, the League of Women Voters of Ohio issued a testimony before the House's State Government Committee in opposition to the bill.

“The LWVO believes that the proliferation of handguns in the addition places identified in HB 48 increases the change for deadly mishap or escalated violence,” the League of Women Voters said in its testimony.

Newbern said there was no evidence that allowing concealed carry on campuses would lead to more violence and said the prohibition of concealed carry on campuses gives criminals the upperhand.

“You’re taking away a law-abiding citizen’s ability to fight back with a tool of equal or greater force,” Newbern said.

Conor Fogarty, president of Ohio University Students for Liberty, said the group supports the individual’s right to make choices.

“We understand, however, that gun safety is an issue,” Fogarty said.

Students for Liberty opposes legislation that would infringe on second amendment rights, Fogarty said, and believes that the individual can better regulate his or her own behavior than a government mandated law. Fogarty also said local communities should decide on where licensed citizens can carry guns.

“We advocate letting communities decide how they want to view concealed carry,” Fogarty said.

The Ohio Legislative Service estimated that measures in the bill would have a small impact on the number of violations and costs to local government and universities.

According to the Ohio Legislative Service’s fiscal analysis, the changes in the bill would lead to small reductions in the number of violations and subsequent prosecution statewide, given that the overall rate of suspensions or revocations statewide is around 1 to 2 percent. 

Cost-saving effects for universities include litigation, settlement and case processing costs, according to the analysis.

“This provision will potentially eliminate future civil lawsuits, although the likely number would be extremely small,” the Ohio Legislative Service said in its analysis.

Reports from the Ohio Attorney General’s office show that 222 concealed carry licenses were issued in Athens County last year and 169 were renewed. Furthermore, no licenses in the county were suspended or revoked.

Fogarty said there is a “core” on campus that may be pro-gun but not necessarily identify under the label of “conservative.” He also said that there isn’t enough dialogue on the issue.

“Don’t get caught up in this whole concept of labels,” Fogarty said.

Andrew Orsburn, a sophomore studying computer science, said he wasn't completely sure about the issue and could see concealed carry being an option for qualified faculty — but definitely not for students. 

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"I think that things would go pretty normally," Jacquie Morgan, a freshman studying graphic design, said. 

Morgan also said that although she wouldn't carry personally, it didn't pose a threat. 

"I don't think some people would use it responsibly, so thats kind of scary to me," Jordan Walton, a freshman studying early childhood education, said. 


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