By MARC KOVAC
The Ohio Senate approved legislation Thursday that would allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons into bars or restaurants, so long as they are not consuming alcohol.
Senate Bill 239 passed, 23-10, and heads to the Ohio House for further consideration.
The legislation includes two provisions: one related to where firearms are stored in motor vehicles and one allowing concealed carry in establishments covered by liquor permits.
Current state law requires firearms to be kept in a holster, a closed glove compartment, a bag or purse left in plain sight or a locked case while being transported in a vehicle, said Sen. Tim Schaffer, a Republican from Lancaster and co-sponsor of the bill.
Under SB 239, firearms could be stored anywhere in a vehicle.
The bill also would allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons into restaurants and bars that serve alcohol as long as they are not consuming alcohol.
More than 40 other states have comparable provisions in, said Sen. Shannon Jones, a Republican from southwestern Ohio and co-sponsor of the bill.
“SB 239 does not change current law that prohibits a person from possessing a firearm while under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” Jones said. “It is still illegal to consume and carry.”
The legislation also does not change existing state law that allows businesses to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on their premises.
But other Senate Democrats opposed the bill.
Sen. Nina Turner, a Democrat from Cleveland said: “I’m sure none of us will feel safe in a crossfire. ... It is dangerous, it makes no sense, and it doesn’t increase safety.”