By Mark Gockowski and Hannah Reed
The Concealed Carry Report, released by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Feb. 26, showed that 110,000 licenses to carry were issued or renewed in 2014. Ohio Democrats worry that the passing of House Bill 234 will cause this number to climb.
House Bill 234 was passed on Dec. 19 of last year and loosens the rules for Ohio residents to obtain a concealed carry license. The bill requires less training from individuals looking to obtain their concealed carry license, as well as allowing some of the training to be online.
The bill states that it “reduces the minimum hours requirements for a firearms competency certification course from 12 to eight, requires a minimum of two hours of in-person training that consists of range time and live-fire training, and allows for a combination of in-person and online training.”
The bill also requires background checks on individuals purchasing guns and states that if a person has obtained a license in another state, that license will be valid in Ohio, given the requirements to acquire the license were similar.
Another release sent out by DeWine stated that Ohio now has concealed carry reciprocity with 28 total states, including Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
Kent Police Department Lt. Jim Prusha said he doesn’t think it’s important where somebody is trained, as long as they are trained properly, but he still doesn’t totally agree with the bill.
“It sounds like they’re decreasing the training, which I disagree with,” Prusha said. “It sounds like they’re making it easier for people to get permits, whether they’re from other states or staying for just a short time or whether they just work in Ohio, but live somewhere else.”
Prusha said with so much criticism about shootings involving police officers lately, he doesn’t understand why anyone would want to loosen the rules even more.
“Officers have hours and hours of training with firearms,” Prusha said. “So now people are pushing to let anybody go around carrying a firearm as long as they’ve had six or eight hours of training, some of that’s allowed to be online?”
Prusha said that, as an officer, he just waits for the legislatures to decide what they are doing and enforces what he is told.
“If it were my position,” Prusha said, “I don’t mind people having concealed weapons, you know, that was in the constitutional amendments, but I would push for more training, not less.”
Two non-partisan groups, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence and ProgressOhio, began an online petition of the bill that got nearly 1,400 signatures, according to an update on ohioceasefire.org.
Regardless of the petition and the majority of the Ohio Senate being Republican, the bill passed with a 24 – 6 vote.
Former Kent State student and employee at the Orlando Gun Club in Florida, Samantha Goik, said she likes the idea of concealed carry of weapons, but is skeptical about reducing training.
“I am 100 percent for concealed carry, but I don’t now agree with taking away mandatory training,” Goik said. “I worked at a gun club and have trained many people personally for their first times handling a firearm, I think expecting that people will learn it safely on their own is stupid.”
Goik said she thinks multiple factors go into handling a firearm the right way.
“Not only is it important to learn how to use it properly, but the classes also explain state laws while concealing and how using (the firearm) in a situation can affect everyone’s life,” Goik said. “Is there someone standing behind the robber? How likely is your bullet to go through the attacker but hit an innocent bystander? There is too much to know.”
House Bill 234 became effective March 23.