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New law loosens concealed carry restrictions

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A new law loosening concealed carry restrictions between Ohio and other states went into effect March 23, changing policies regarding out-of-state licenses, residency requirements and other regulations.

House Bill 234, which was passed in December 2014, outlines three standards for out-of-state concealed-carry permits held by Ohio residents. The first and the second say that Ohio will recognize these permits from states that either have a reciprocity agreement with Ohio or have requirements “substantially comparable to the eligibility requirements in Ohio,” according to the bill summary.

The third says that out-of-state licenses from states without reciprocity agreements with Ohio or comparable laws will be recognized for 60 days after the person has become a resident in Ohio, after which he or she will be required to obtain an Ohio permit.

Currently, Ohio has reciprocity agreements, in which two or more parties agree to share resources, with 30 states; but it doesn’t have reciprocity agreements with certain states because of disagreements on the requirements needed, said Linda Walker, Ohio chair for the Buckeye Firearms Association and a member of the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors.

For example, Ohio does not have a reciprocity agreement with Texas because Texas requires Ohio to have a National Instant Criminal Background System Check System, which Ohio did not have before HB 234. However, HB 234 implemented this system in Ohio, and the state is now pursuing a reciprocity agreement with Texas.

Another change from HB 234 is that Ohio will begin issuing concealed handgun licenses to non-residents who work in Ohio. This, Walker said, is meant in part to help increase the safety of schools because it will allow teachers to comply with a law that says only people with permits from within Ohio are allowed to carry guns in school zones.

“We have a lot of school teachers, administrators and board members who work in Ohio but live in other states,” Walker said. “Ever since the massacre at Sandy Hook we implemented a program that allows teachers and program employees that have permission to carry guns in their schools… (If) we have a teacher who works in Ohio but lives in a different state, it gives them that ability to save children.”

HB 234 also eliminates the requirement that a person must be a resident in Ohio for 45 days and a resident of the county for at least 30 days before being eligible for a concealed handgun license. Additionally, it decreased the number of hours required to obtain a concealed gun from 12 hours to eight hours of training.

Ohioans will also be able to purchase a rifle, shotgun, or ammunition in any of the 50 states, whereas before purchases were only made from Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

However, concealed handguns could be potentially dangerous, according to the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. The group believes laws should instead demonstrate the importance of gun control.

According to the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, “Violence prevention is everyone’s business.” Solutions the group proposes to minimize gun violence include limiting gun purchases from unlicensed dealers without instant background checks, requiring all handguns to be registered and putting stricter regulations on concealed carry.

Walker believes that HB 234 is beneficial even though it makes access to guns easier.

“House Bill 234 is cleaning up the law in Ohio.  Criminals don’t pay attention to law and there’s a reason they’re criminals. People who want to purchase a gun will follow the rules and take the right steps.”

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