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Debate Over Statehouse Bill Ending Conceal-Carry Permits

Ohio Public Radio

Lawmakers and dozens of opponents of a pro-gun bill squared off in an Ohio House committee this week over so-called "Constitutional Carry." 

The measure allows anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training. Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

Amy Whitson is a trauma surgeon who teaches advanced trauma life support in Columbus. She says she’s seen first-hand the serious and fatal effects of gun violence, through the patients to which she’s tended.

Whitson: “House Bill 178 would permit more people to carry out violent acts such as this.”


The bill would allow permitless concealed carry, scrapping the state requirements for a person to receive eight hours of training and obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.


Pro-gun groups have said this is an important constitutional issue, to allow someone to carry a concealed weapon without going through additional hurdles such as training.


Republican Representative Ron Hood of Ashville is sponsor of the bill. He takes issue with Whitson’s claim that it would mean more violence.


Hood: “Can you explain to me or show me how in HB178, how it permits people to carry out violent acts?”


Whitson: “So, by releasing needing a permit to carry a concealed weapon, more people will be able to carry concealed weapons into buildings and into schools and commit violent acts, it’s a direct line.”


But Hood argues the flaw in that perspective is that someone who wants to carry out a violent act isn’t waiting for the permit laws to change.


Hood: “Can you explain to me how a criminal is going through that process in their mind that ‘I’m gonna go murder somebody but oh House Bill 178 didn’t become law so I just can’t, I’m not going to be able to take my gun in there and commit that violent act.’”


Along with permitless concealed carry, the bill would also remove the requirement for an armed person to tell a police officer that they’re carrying a weapon.


Law enforcement groups are also opposing the bill because of the changes it makes to the notification requirement.


Democratic Representative Fred Strahorn says the general notion with permits and training is to require more responsibility to come with gun ownership, or concealed carry.


Strahorn: “This bill makes it somewhat harder for law enforcement to distinguish between who maybe has good intent and who may have bad intent. And a lot of violence happens in a fluid motion, everything’s not premeditated.”


Matthew Youkilis, a recent graduate of Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, insists there should be more gun restrictions not less. He shared the story of his cousin Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.


He references a statistic from Stanford Law researchers that found states with weaker carry permit laws end up seeing an increase of gun violence by 13-15%.


Republican Representative Kyle Koehler, a co-sponsor of the bill, takes issue with the statistics that are brought up when it comes to gun violence. For example, the numbers might include suicides.


Koehler: “Suicide is horrible. Gun violence is horrible. But to somehow relate it to concealed carry law that doesn’t mean anything in relationship to this particular bill.”


Youkilis disagrees, saying the data is reliable proof.


Youkilis: “I think if it’s 15%, that’s a clear causation. That is a major increase in violent crime rates. There’s a clear causation in that scenario.”


Strahorn adds that there might be certain scenarios of gun violence that don’t necessarily align directly with the requirement for a permit, but says making Ohio a permitless carry state can strike the wrong tone.


Strahorn: “We can do things that encourage people to be more responsible, to seek training, to delay the purchase or perhaps the carrying of a firearm that gives them a moment to think.”



This bill has been introduced several times in the Ohio General Assembly, but may have more momentum this year as more states pass similar laws.


The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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