Editor's Note: This story was updated as information became available.
By a 56 - 40 margin, the Ohio House has passed House Bill 45, sponsored by Representatives Danny Bubp (R-West Union) and Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) which will allow citizens who hold a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry a firearm in restaurants. To do so, license holders may not consume any alcohol and must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to OpenCarry.org, 42 states (including every state that borders Ohio) allow non-drinking license holders to carry firearms in restaurants.
The bill also reduces burdensome restrictions regarding how a license holder must transport a firearm in a car. Currently, Ohio is the only state to place such complex limitations on license holders.
One month ago, the Ohio Senate passed an amended version of this legislation (SB17) by a 25-7 margin, having adding a provision to provide a way for people who were convicted of improperly transporting a firearm under the current law to receive relief if they would have been in compliance under the law as amended.
Before the bill passed, Rep. Todd McKenney (R-New Franklin) offered an amendment to strip restaurant carry from the bill. The anti-gun amendment was defeated by a 58-38 vote to table. Buckeye Firearms Association can report that McKenney answered our 2010 candidate survey just as did Rep. Matt Lundy (D), who BFA recently exposed for having lied on his 2010 candidate survey by promising to vote for the legislation in order to win a good grade and an endorsement, only to reverse course within weeks after being in office.
Other anti-gun amendments were offered by Reps. Ted Celeste (D), Mike Foley (D) (who invoked "the Wild Wild West atmosphere" he says "could and would happen" in bars, before introducing an admittedly "sarcastic" amendment), Sandra Williams (D), Tracy Heard (D) (who asked "what's to guarantee me that any one of the members in this chamber who hold a concealed carry wouldn't shoot me in the head?" and said she believes if the bill passes "there isn't going to be anyone in Ohio who isn't carrying a gun.") and Bill Patmon (D) (who cited examples of a few CHL-holders who have broken the law as representative of what he must expect will happen here). Those amendments too were tabled or defeated - Celeste's by a 62-34 margin, Foley's 72-23, Williams' 64-32, Heard's 61-34 and Patmon's 64-32.
Several Democrats also rose in opposition to the bill. Most notably, Rep. Mark Okey (D), rose to complain that a letter sent to Representatives by Buckeye Firearms Association was "threatening" and "intended to intimidate us." Okey also claimed that bar owners would be liable for the actions of those carrying a concealed handgun license.
Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, said, "That is not true. Okey needs to refer to Ohio Law, specifically 2923.126(C)(2)(a) which says 'A private employer shall be immune from liability in a civil action for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly was caused by or related to a licensee bringing a handgun onto the premises or property of the private employer, including motor vehicles owned by the private employer, unless the private employer acted with malicious purpose.'"
Okey concluded his remarks by with this: "Buckeye Firearms, you have to earn my vote" and asserted that he was voting 'no' as an act of "legislative self-defense," shouting "Every citizen has a right to defend his house. This is our House," he said, referring to the Statehouse. There will no doubt a good number of voters who will look forward to reminding Okey in 2012 that it is not, in fact, his House, it is The People's House, and it is he who has to earn our vote.
The House also passed House Bill 54, sponsored by Representatives Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and Jarrod Martin (R-Beavercreek), which seeks to align Ohio law with federal statutes regarding the restoration of rights to Ohio firearms purchasers. The bill passed by a 78-18 majority. An amended version of that bill was already passed in the Senate by a 25-7 margin.
Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, said, "These bills address three important issues facing Ohio gun owners and concealed carry license holders and seek to align Ohio law with federal law and the laws of our surrounding states."
Even though both the House and Senate have passed substantially similar bills, each bill must go through the normal committee vote and floor vote process in the opposite chamber before it can be sent to Governor Kasich. Only one bill on each topic will actually make it to the Governor. Buckeye Firearms Association is hopeful that the Ohio General Assembly can expedite these bills, because opportunity for proponent and opponent testimony has already been given in each chamber, and so that both bills can be sent to Governor Kasich before the summer recess.
-I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you screw with me, I'll kill you all.
-Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
Marine General James Mattis,