COLUMBUS, Ohio — *EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is from a previous story.
Ohio is likely soon to allow people to carry concealed weapons without training or a permit.
The Senate passed an updated Senate Bill 215, approving some House amendments after its vote this afternoon. It now heads to Governor DeWine’s desk.
It's not without controversy. Even gun advocates are questioning how the law would make Ohio safer.
“I don’t think it’s good at all,” said Kim Rodecker, who owns and teaches Concealed Carry Courses of Cleveland. “It’s like if you have a 16-year-old who wants to learn how to drive. Would you just throw him the keys and the book, and say, here, go teach yourself? It’s just as stupid.”
Rodecker, a veteran who taught firearms courses in the Marine Corps, estimates he’s taught more than 13-thousand people their state-required CCW course since current concealed carry laws passed in 2004. He says he’s against the idea of permitless carry, not because people are evil, but because they can be ignorant. If people can opt out of training, they will.
“I have trained so many people that they wouldn’t take the class if they don’t have to. They’d make a mistake and that mistake could cost somebody their life,” he said.
Currently, those seeking a permit must pass a background check, attend an eight-hour safety class, including two hours spent handling firearms on a range.
Instead, Ohio’s Senate Bill 215 would allow all adults 21 and over who can legally own a gun to concealed carry. It also removes the requirement to tell law enforcement officers about the weapon unless asked.
Opponents, including many police organizations like Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, say it could make our communities less safe.
“The way this works is very simple. If you can carry with a license now, you’ll be able to carry without a license later,” said Dean Rieck.
Rieck is the Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, one of the groups backing the bill. He says this was their number one legislative priority.
“What we’re trying to do is allow Ohioans to exercise their constitutional rights without that burden… No other constitutional right requires you to jump through that many hoops,” he said.
While Rieck says BFA encourages training, they don't want to see it mandated. When issues of safety come up, they point to 21 other states already allow such constitutional or permitless carry.
“This is not a novel concept,” he said. “Those states haven't had any big problems with this. We don't think Ohio is going to have any problems either.”
Republican State Rep. Shane Wilkin asked his colleagues to support the bill before the 57-35 vote Wednesday. “This bill puts the law-abiding citizen puts on a little more equal footing with those who do not care about the law and who do not respect the law.”
Republicans tabled several proposed gun safety amendments during the session, including those that would require a background check when a firearm is transferred and another that would have required gun dealers to provide information on Ohio’s gun laws.
Democrats, including State Rep. Joe Miller of Amherst, objected. “This is a bad bill,” he said during the session.
He shared this statement with 3News afterward. “As a supporter of the Second Amendment and a gun owner, I believe that this legislation goes too far. We have passed too many bills in this General Assembly that have made Ohioans less safe. It is a red flag for me that the Fraternal Order of Ohio opposes this bill, and the conversations I have had with constituents echo the concerns I have,” he said.
The Senate then quickly voted 24-8 to approve the House amendments.
While the bill conflicts with gun reforms Governor DeWine has proposed, he seems unlikely to stand in its way. His office told 3News as of Wednesday evening, they had not received the bill yet, but have been reviewing it. A spokesperson noted "Governor DeWine has long supported the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms."
“We feel really good about the chances of this passing,” said Rieck.