Ohio Senate Republicans voted to remove almost all requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, just weeks after the House passed a similar bill, setting up a potential showdown in the new year over which version goes to the governor.
Senate Bill 215, known as a constitutional or permitless carry law, passed the Senate 23-7 Wednesday. Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, cast the lone Republican no vote.
The bill would eliminate the requirement to take a class and get a permit to legally carry concealed firearms. Instead, anyone 21 years or older who is legally allowed to own a firearm would be allowed to carry it concealed while out and about in Ohio.
The will would also loosen what's required when armed Ohioans are stopped by police. Current law puts on the onus on the gun owner to "promptly" inform law enforcement that they're armed. The bill would require people to disclose that they were armed only when asked by a police officer or face a second-degree misdemeanor charge.
The permits and eight-hour training courses would still be available though for people who want a physical license to fulfill reciprocity agreements when crossing state lines.
It's a shorter, simpler bill than what the House passed, according to Senate Republicans. They cut out all the sections on pretrial immunity during a committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.
"I've known Terry Johnson (the bill sponsor) since he got elected in 2011 in the House. He's a leader in this and knows a lot about it," Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said. "From our perspective, that will be the vehicle on this issue."
House Bill 227 eliminated the need for a concealed carry permit, but it also modified the rules for active military and expanded the role of local sheriff offices in issuing concealed licenses.
Both bills were opposed by Democrats, Ohio's Fraternal Order of Police and municipal groups such as the Ohio Mayors Alliance.
"We believe that passing this bill will increase violent crime, it will increase police-involved shootings, and more innocent victims being caught in the crossfire," Ohio Mayors Alliance Director Keary McCarthy said.
Democratic Sen. Cecil Thomas, who spent more than two decades working as a Cincinnati police officer, said eliminating the duty to notify would make routines stops more dangerous and potentially more deadly.
"There are so many variations of how this could go real bad," he said.
And Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, worried these bills would make it easier for people convicted of domestic violence or misdemeanor assault against an officer to carry guns.
"It is an anti-police bill," Fedor said. "You are not listening to them."
But Sen. Steve Wilson, R-Mainville, disagreed.
"I don’t believe there is anything in this bill that changes the requirement for buying a gun in the state of Ohio, which includes background checks," Wilson said.
Purchasing firearms from federally licensed gun dealers requires background checks. Buying guns via private sales does not.
Ohio first passed its CCW law in 2004. Last year, 96,892 new licenses were issued and 72,340 were renewed. In total, more than 700,000 Ohioans have active CCW licenses.
Anna Staver is a reporter with the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. It serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Senate is pass bill eliminating need for conceal carry permits