Ohio Senate approves concealed carry without a permit

A concealed weapon permit would no longer be necessary and gun owners won’t have to promptly notify law enforcement they are carrying.

Updated: December 16, 2021 - 11:28pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A concealed weapon permit no longer will be necessary and gun owners will not have to promptly notify law enforcement they are carrying a concealed weapon if the Ohio Legislature can agree on a bill that has passed the Senate.

Senate Bill 215, which passed the Senate on Wednesday nearly along party lines, 23-8, is close to a bill that passed the House in early November. The two chambers have to work out any differences before full passage and a bill is sent to Gov. Mike DeWine.

Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, was the only Republican to vote against it.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, has said Senate Republicans prefer the Senate bill moving forward.

The House and Senate bills each eliminate the need for a conceal carry permit and the duty to notify, but the Senate version removed language dealing with pretrial hearings and language that said people in Ohio couldn’t carry a concealed firearm prohibited under federal law. It kept firearms banned in Ohio and raised the penalty for people who lie to a law enforcement officer about having a gun to a second-degree misdemeanor.

If eventually passed and signed, the bill would end the need to take a class and get a permit to carry a concealed firearm, leaving the permit and an eight-hour training course optional.

Anyone stopped by police while carry a concealed weapon in the state promptly must tell law enforcement they are armed. The bill changes that and makes it necessary to tell law enforcement only if the person is asked.

The bill, which is backed by the Buckeye Firearms Association, received opposition from law enforcement groups throughout the state, along with social organizations and state Democrats.

"Despite the dire predictions by opponents, SB 215 is a simple bill that merely makes licensing optional for carrying a concealed firearm,” said Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “It does not change the law in any way on who can legally possess a firearm. SB 215 will align Ohio with 21 other states with permitless or 'Constitutional' carry, including neighbors West Virginia and Kentucky.”

Similar legislation is being debated in Indiana.

In the bill’s hearing Tuesday before the Senate’s Veterans and Public Safety Committee, 82 people testified against it, including the Ohio Mayors Alliance and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.

“The FOP strongly opposes SB 215. We feel the changes in the bill create a threat to officer safety,” said Michael Weinman, a retired Columbus police officer and director of governmental affairs for the FOP. “The bill eliminates the need for a concealed carry license, eliminates the notification by a licensee to an officer that they are armed, eliminates the duty for a licensee to keep their hands in plain sight, eliminates the requirement to carry documentation for both licensee and military personnel and disallows an officer from detaining anyone with a firearm.”