COLUMBUS—Ohio House Democrats today condemned the Ohio House passage of House Bill (HB) 227, GOP-backed legislation that would gut public safety laws that currently require permits for people who carry hidden, loaded handguns in public.
“Passing a background check and spending a few hours with an instructor on a shooting range isn’t burdensome; it’s the bare minimum. If this body is truly serious about both gun rights and public safety, then we should continue improving this system, not render it obsolete by making it optional,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland), former Ranking Member on the House Government Oversight Committee. “Extreme legislation like this flies in the face of commonsense. Why should it be easier to carry a concealed weapon in public than it is to get a fishing license? House Bill 227 is part of the reason why Ohioans are leaving this state because we seem to care more about guns than the people who die from gun violence each year in this state.”
HB 227 would allow anyone aged 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon without a license, without having to meet current concealed carry training requirements and without having to promptly inform police of concealed weapons during a traffic stop. Additionally, HB 227 eliminates penalties altogether for failing to notify law enforcement if you are carrying a weapon.
“This bill does not make safer communities or a stronger state,” said Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park), co-founder of the Ohio Gun Violence Prevention Caucus. “As a concealed carry permit holder myself, HB 227 does not promote responsible gun ownership, and only increases the likelihood that guns will make their way into dangerous hands. The vast majority of Ohioans, across the political spectrum, want to see more commonsense gun safety measures, but House Republicans continue to support extreme gun legislation that will put more everyday Ohioans and law enforcement in danger.”
Democrats offered several commonsense safety amendments to the bill, including:
Requiring universal background checks on all gun purchases;
Implementing extreme risk protection orders;
Requiring firearms dealers to provide information about gun laws with all firearms purchases.
These amendments were rejected by Republicans.
“Implementing universal background checks for firearms purchases is more necessary than ever if permitless carry is signed into law. Without background checks, there would be few safeguards to ensure guns are kept out of the hands of minors, felons, criminals, and domestic abusers,” said Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), who offered the amendment which would require background checks on all gun purchases during session. “We owe it to the vast majority of Ohioans who called on lawmakers to ‘do something’ about gun violence to pass commonsense gun safety measures that will keep our kids and communities safe.”
Gun violence rates in Ohio surged in 2020, with 25 mass shootings recorded, up from 14 the year before. Some two-thirds of Ohioans say they are worried about the threat of gun violence in their community, at their church or in their child’s school.
In April 2021, Democrats unveiled a package of commonsense gun safety measures they say will work to curb gun violence and save lives in Ohio, including safe storage, red-flag and background check laws. Republicans have blocked each measure from passing out of committee.
Republicans also passed HB 99 during House session today, which would allow teachers and staff to be armed in schools without adequate training or safe storage requirements.
After passing the House, HB 227 moves to the Senate for further consideration.