COLUMBUS Law enforcement groups oppose weapons proposal
Under the proposal, county sheriffs would issue licenses to allow Ohioans to carry concealed handguns.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Representatives of two law-enforcement groups say they continue to oppose a bill that would allow people in Ohio to carry concealed handguns.
Their opposition could also keep Gov. Bob Taft, who's said he won't sign a concealed-carry bill without the widespread support of law enforcement, opposed to the measure pending in the Ohio House of Representatives.
But the House's top leader says majority House Republicans will continue to study the bill in the hopes a compromise can be reached.
"Our plan is to continue doing what we're doing," House Speaker Larry Householder said recently of the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jim Aslanides of Coshocton, R-95th.
"We're continuing to talk to law enforcement," said Householder of Glenford, R-78th.
Getting a license: Under Aslanides' bill, county sheriffs would issue licenses to allow Ohioans to carry concealed handguns.
According to a legislative analysis of the bill, potential applicants would have to be Ohio residents for at least 45 days; be a resident of the county in which they apply or an adjacent county for 30 days; be at least 21 and not a fugitive from justice; and must not be mentally incompetent.
The bill was worked over last year in a subcommittee chaired by state Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin of Aurora, R-75th, and will now be studied by the full House Civil and Commercial Law Committee.
Householder told reporters recently that House leaders might try to seek passage of the bill if they can garner enough support among House members.
But the speaker acknowledged that law enforcement support would be important to the eventual success of the bill.
"If we don't have the support of law enforcement, it's just going to be more difficult to pass," Householder said.
No support: Mike Taylor, secretary of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said the police officers union doesn't oppose the concept of a permit system, but that the organization doesn't support the bill in its current form.
The union represents about 24,000 police officers throughout Ohio.
The FOP would like to see more training included in the bill and other improvements, Taylor said.
The Ohio Highway Patrol is also opposed to Aslanides' proposal, said patrol Lt. John Born, an agency spokesman.
"Our position is with road rage certainly being a factor ... that we don't need people with loaded guns in cars," Born said recently.
The Buckeye State Sheriffs Association has testified in support of the bill.
Taft says he continues to study the situation.
"We're monitoring it very carefully," Taft said in a year-end interview. The governor said his representatives also continue to talk with law-enforcement officials about Aslanides' proposal.
"We can approve a bill only if it has widespread support from law enforcement," Taft said. "So far, that's not the case."