Guest Column From State Rep. Mark Romanchuk
When Two Rights Collide: Why I Voted No on Senate Bill 199

I believe in the right to bear arms.  The second amendment guarantees us all that right:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

And, in the fourth paragraph of Article 1 of the Bill of Rights in the Ohio Constitution:

“The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.”

Since my election to the Ohio House of Representatives, I have always voted in favor of expanding Ohio’s gun rights. At 1:00 a.m. on the last session day of the 131st General Assembly, two concealed handgun license bills were merged—House Bill 48 and Senate Bill 199.  I had already voted yes on House Bill 48 in November 2015.  But when they were merged, a “Worker Protection” amendment was added into Senate Bill 199.  The “Worker Protection” amendment would allow a valid concealed handgun license holder to transport and store a firearm or ammunition on private property even if the private property owner prohibits it.  While I will always vote to protect our Second Amendment rights, infringing on someone’s private property rights goes too far for me.

Protecting our property rights is the very foundation of our republic. The framers of the United States Constitution established a government that, above all else, protects our life, liberty, and property. Any erosion of private property rights weakens all other rights guaranteed to individuals by the Constitution. As John Adams said, “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it anarchy and tyranny commence.”

Also, the Ohio Constitution lists property rights in the first paragraph under Inalienable Rights:

“All men are, by nature, free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.”

It should be noted that property rights are mentioned in the first paragraph and the right to bear arms is mentioned in the fourth paragraph of the Ohio Constitution. It is for this same reason that many states have castle doctrine laws that allow citizens to protect their homes—their property—against armed intruders. Our right to protect our property, even if that means limiting someone’s right to bear arms on our property, is a fundamental right in America that we must always protect.

When a legislator votes on legislation which involves two different rights, that legislator must decide which right has priority. For me, property rights are paramount. I plan on voting yes on all future legislation which expands the right to bear arms, so long as it does not take away or abridge our fundamental right to property.

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