A person would have to be at least 21 to apply for a permit to carry a concealed firearm, the bill says.
By MICHELE C. HLADIK
COLUMBUS -- Legislation allowing Ohioans to carry concealed firearms may not be perfect, but it's better than nothing and a definite step forward, proponents told an Ohio House of Representatives subcommittee.
More than a dozen proponents of the legislation supported it Wednesday before the Civil and Commercial Law Subcommittee, while dozens more cheered intermittently or simply offered quiet support.
"Give them whatever it takes to get it going," said Texas State Rep. Suzanna Hupp. "Our rights have been taken away incrementally. We'll have to get them back incrementally."
Restrictions: Hupp was responding to questions over a provision of the bill that would restrict carrying concealed firearms in certain buildings and areas around the state, including government buildings, courthouses, libraries, airports and schools.
"In my opinion, what you are creating is a grocery list for a madman," she said adding that public shootings are often at places where guns are restricted and not at places like gun shows, where the public actually has access to firearms.
Hupp also spoke of the 1991 episode in which a man drove through a Texas restaurant and systematically opened fire on the patrons. Hupp and her parents were victims of the assault.
She said she wasn't angry with the shooter, but with state lawmakers who kept her from carrying her firearm, which she believes may have saved the lives of her parents and others.
House Bill 274, sponsored by state Rep. James Aslanides, R-Coshocton, would allow Ohioans with no criminal history to carry a concealed handgun with the proper permit.
Permit process: Under the bill, the permit process would involve a background check and firearm training, said to closely resemble programs offered by the National Rifle Association.
Those who have been a state resident for 90 days and a resident of the county where they applied for 60 days could get permits at a county sheriff's office.
Only people 21 and older can apply for the permits, which need to be renewed every four years and can be revoked if a crime is committed.
The bill also allows for reciprocity with other states with similar laws.
Bill supporters maintain the right to carry firearms would allow them to protect themselves and their families.
Law enforcement's support: Members of the law enforcement community also offered support for the bill, including Maj. Gregory Berquist of the Allen County Sheriff's Department and David Olexa of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 55 in Athens.
Buckeye State Sheriff's Association helped write the bill.
State Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin, R-Aurora, who chairs the subcommittee, said she expects the bill to receive further hearings throughout the summer. The bill has 49 co-sponsors in the House.