COLUMBUS -- Residents with valid concealed firearm licenses would not be required to notify officers that they are carrying, under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.
HB 142 its first hearing April 25 before the chamber's Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee. Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), primary sponsor, said the bill is aimed at ending confusion created by existing code.
"This language is vague, it is often arbitrarily enforced and takes the control of the dialogue away from a law enforcement officer and gives it to the subject of a law enforcement encounter," he said. "The penalty for violating this law is a first degree misdemeanor, which is the same level as the penalty for operating a vehicle under the influence."
The Fraternal Order of Police is not supporting the bill.
"I can't imagine why a law-abiding citizen would not want to tell law enforcement that they're armed," said Mike Weinman, director of government affairs, who was on hand for the April 25 hearing. " All it does is really create an additional level of tension. What happens when we discover that they have a firearm? They never told us, and now we discover they have a firearm. My actions are going to be a lot more aggressive."
Under current law, concealed carry licensees must promptly notify law enforcement during traffic and other stops of concealed handguns on their person or in their vehicles. HB 142 would eliminate that notification requirement and related criminal penalties.
Current law, Wiggam said, strips officers' ability to control conversations during enforcement situations. The bill would not stop officers from asking residents if they are carrying concealed firearms.
"There is no other category of citizen in the state of Ohio who has the duty to notify the state of anything," Wiggam said. "No other individual is forced to take control of the dialogue between themselves and the law enforcement officer It is our job as elected representatives of the people to ensure we have clearly defined laws that uphold the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of the state of Ohio That is why I urge you today to support HB 142 and protect the rights of safe, good, and legal citizens."
HB 142 had its first hearing April 25; subsequent sessions will provide opportunities for proponents and opponents to voice their support or concerns.
HB 142 was one of a handful of firearms-related bills that were up for first hearings Tuesday before the Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee.
Other legislation would ban the manufacture or sale of imitation firearms, require disclosure of certain convictions as part of hunting license applications, and require background checks for certain firearm transfers.
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.