Guest Commentary: Next Week, Ohioans Can Concealed Carry Firearms with No Permit, Background Check or Training

Our freedom to not be the next mass shooting victim, the next devastated survivor, the next homicide or suicide gun victim, is sacrificed for fevered Second Amendment absolutists.

click to enlarge Guns are now even easier to obtain and carry in Ohio. - Kelly L, Pexels
Kelly L, Pexels
Guns are now even easier to obtain and carry in Ohio.

Do you feel safer knowing that anyone who can legally pack heat will be able to carry hidden firearms in Ohio without a license, background checks or basic training starting next week? A whole level of scrutiny and safety requirements that once applied to concealed handguns in Ohio disappear June 13. If you’re at least 21, not a convicted felon, or otherwise prohibited from possessing a piece, you can tuck a Glock under your garment, no questions asked, and go mix with masses. 

You still won’t be able to carry guns openly or secretly in certain places like courthouses or school safety zones. But in this state, under leadership beholden to the gun lobby, it’s just a matter of time before the inmates running the General Assembly asylum holler for unlimited freedom to holster up with a loaded weapon any place they please. Our freedom to go places without looking over our shoulders for armed irrationality doesn’t rate equal footing with Statehouse extremists rushing to legislate more guns into more hands damn the deadly consequences.

Our freedom to go to the grocery store without fear of being randomly gunned down, like 10 weekend shoppers in Buffalo, isn’t as important as arming more people with no restrictions or requirements. Our freedom to go to festivals without fear of coming under fire, like 59 country music festival goers in Las Vegas, is meaningless to Ohio Republicans crusading to relax more  gun laws that threaten public safety. 

Our freedom to go to church or synagogue or mosque, like congregations in Sutherland Springs, Texas and Pittsburgh, without fear of bullets riddling our place of worship, doesn’t factor into bills written by gun lobbyists to remove all regulation of lethal weapons.  Our freedom to not be the next mass shooting victim, the next devastated survivor, the next homicide or suicide gun victim, is sacrificed for fevered Second Amendment absolutists. The vocal minority insisting that the right to keep and bear arms is supreme and can never be constrained — neither of which is true — put their gun fetishes over our freedom from fear.

Our rights not to be ambushed by a shooter at work, to be injured or killed by a stray bullet at the park or playground, to be the next family that must bury a student slaughtered at school — are irrelevant to radical politicians working for the unlimited gun rights movement. It has thoroughly absorbed the Republican super-majority in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate and leashed the Republican governor.

Commonsense gun policy, supported by responsible gun owners, community safety advocates and law enforcement is absolutely off the table in Ohio under GOP-gun lobby rule. A slate of insane bills expanding gun rights (opposed by most Ohioans) is sailing through the MAGA-extreme legislature. A compliant Gov. Mike DeWine is standing by to give them his blessing. But he knows the rest of us are outraged with his capitulation to special interests over our freedom from gun violence. 

The spineless politician will sign reckless gun legislation into law, say on a Friday night going into the weekend, hoping no one will notice. He’ll do it quietly and without comment to minimize political fallout from his cowardice — from his failure to “do something” to protect public safety. That’s what happened with the permitless carry law that goes into effect in days. Before Senate Bill 215 became law — erasing minimal safeguards to carry a hidden deadly weapon in Ohio — broad opposition to the reckless measure was duly noted and brushed aside. 

The Ohio Mayors Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of mayors from the state’s largest cities, begged lawmakers to reconsider. “With gun violence on the rise and with tragic recent history of mass shootings in our cities, it is inconceivable that state leaders would allow this bill to become law.” With the Ohio Association of Police Chiefs and the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, the mayors’ group tried unsuccessfully to appeal to legislators’ (presumable) values of “shared commitment to public safety in Ohio and all her cities, towns and villages.”

But reasoning with radicals posing as public servants is fruitless. Monday onward we won’t know who is packing heat with no permit application with the local sheriff, no background check passed and no training or live-fire practice that used to be required. Police will no longer have to be promptly informed by someone they pull over who is concealing a gun. 

The Buckeye Wild West is taking root thanks to the Republican state senators and representatives catering to an extreme minority at the expense of our lives. No Democratic legislator voted to eliminate the reasonable concealed carry regulations on the books. This is on the MAGA party. This is on Mike DeWine and his hollow promises (and worthless thoughts and prayers) to bereaved Daytonians. 

To divert attention from their abdication of duty to protect our right to life, the Ohio Republican response to children being mowed down in school by a teenager, who freely bought a military assault rifle, (same law applies here) is to arm more school staff, dramatically slash training requirements and congratulate themselves for protecting children and teachers. 

Doesn’t make me feel safer. You?

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished here with permission.

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