COLUMBUS, Ohio (Dec. 20, 2021) – Last week, the Ohio Senate passed a “constitutional carry” bill that would make it legal for individuals over 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. The enactment of the bill would also foster an environment more hostile to federal gun control.
Sen. Terry Johnson (R) introduced Senate Bill 215 (SB215) in November. It has garnered 13 cosponsors. Under the proposed law, adults 21 and over who can legally possess a handgun in the state of Ohio could carry a concealed firearm without a state-issued permit. The legislation would retain the current permitting process for those who wish to obtain a license in order to carry concealed in other states with CCDW reciprocity with Ohio.
On Dec. 15, the Senate passed SB215 by a 23-8 vote.
SB215 would also clarify the Ohio “duty to inform” law. Under current law, a person carrying a concealed firearm must inform a law enforcement officer “promptly” upon encountering the officer. HB227 would remove the burden of notification from the individual. A person carrying a concealed firearm would only have to inform the officer if asked.
A similar bill passed the House earlier this month. The Senate version is somewhat simpler than the House bill, stripping out provisions modifying rules for active military and expanding the role of local sheriff offices in issuing concealed licenses.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing “constitutional carry” lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourage a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
To enact permitless carry in Ohio, either the House must pass the Senate version or the Senate must pass the House version. It remains unclear which version Republican leadership will get behind. At the time of this report, neither bill had been referred to a committee. Before either bill can move forward, they must get a committee assignment, receive a hearing and pass committee by a majority vote.