COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s easy to see why State Representative Ron Hood would be confident enough to say, “It’s just a matter of time where we will have this law,” when you look at the balance of power in the Ohio Statehouse and the steady erosion of gun laws that regulate rights, and the proliferation of those that expand them instead.
Still, he has been trying to get his bill passed for the last few decades, at least in some form or fashion.
He first introduced his bill as a way to allow people to carry concealed guns back in 1995.
Hood’s been in and out of the state legislature over the years and the current incarnation of the bill would allow for people to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit or the things that go with obtaining that license.
Law enforcement agencies oppose the bill, saying it would make their jobs even more dangerous than it already is.
Also opposing the bill are watchdog groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The group keeps an eye on all gun-related legislation and is opposing this particular measure.
The central Ohio chapter of the group includes members who own guns, and according to their spokesperson, Richele O’Connor, they have no problem respecting the 2nd Amendment.
“I think we all want the same thing. I think we all want to be safe,” O’Connor said. “I just wish we could figure out a way with common ground to get there.”
On this bill, that would mean dealing with Hood, who shared his view of gun laws.
“Gun laws only hurt law-abiding citizens. Criminals don’t obey gun laws of any kind,” Hood said.
One of the concerns the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association has with the bill is that it could undermine investigations or consequences.
Hood doesn’t think his bill does that at all.
So we laid out this hypothetical situation:
A man with no criminal history decides to take his gun, for which he does not have a permit to conceal, and put it in his pocket. The man then goes to a gas station with the intent to rob it. However, along the way, police see the concealed weapon, giving them a valid reason to stop the man and talk to him.
Under current law, the man would be in violation of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. He could be arrested on a misdemeanor charge. As a side benefit, for enforcing the law on the books, the officer would have unknowingly prevented the man from attempting to rob the gas station.
If this bill were to pass, however, the officer still would have been able to stop him for whatever reason allowed him to do so legally, but the presence of the concealed weapon would not be an arrestable charge. Therefore, the man could potentially walk away from that interaction, as long as there was no other arrestable reason for the interaction, and continue on with his plan to rob that gas station as his situation has not changed.
Let’s take it a step further, as if the bill has passed.
While that man is attempting to rob that gas station, there is a customer in the bathroom. They recently purchased a gun and are carrying it around concealed. It’s their first gun and they haven’t taken the time to train on how to use it or learn the laws about when they could use it. It doesn’t matter if the reason is because they just haven’t gotten around to it, or if they think they didn’t need the training.
When they come out of the bathroom and see the place getting robbed, they feel the urge to jump in and save the day. They view themselves as a “good guy” so they pull out their brand new gun and try to stop the robbery. Shots are exchanged, and a stray bullet from the new gun owner goes through the window of the gas station and hits somebody passing by, killing them.
Opponents of the bill say this hypothetical situation spiraled out of control because safeguards currently in law were removed.
Hood doesn’t think this situation applies to his bill or that his bill would have changed anything about this.
“We’re not going to see the blood in the streets scenario that people charge that we are. It’s just not going to happen,” Hood said.
The bill continues to be heard in the Federalism Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives.
If it ever passes out of that committee, Speaker of the House Larry Householder says he would like to see it go to the Criminal Justice Committee for additional hearings before he would be comfortable bringing it to the House floor for a vote by the full legislative body in the Chamber.