Ohio Republicans want two additional bills to loosen restrictions on carrying guns, including allowing people to bring them into the Statehouse parking garage and not requiring gun owners to tell policemen during a traffic stop that they have a weapon. Republican Rep. Ron Maag is expected to introduce the bills this week, reports the Columbus Dispatch
, and law enforcement officials oppose both.
Under current law, a person with a concealed carry license who is pulled over must promptly tell a police officer there is a gun in the vehicle, and keep their hands in plain sight until the officer leaves. Maag’s proposal would eliminate both of those requirements.
Maag said the law has not always been applied fairly or has been misused. Further, he said an officer already knows if a driver has a concealed-carry permit if a license is run through the state’s computer. Out-of-state permit holders might not know Ohio’s law, Maag said, and only a handful of other states require the owner to report a gun in the vehicle.
“Officers have some sort of a set spiel, and if they get interrupted, it’s been reported to me that they get angry and don’t make it possible for the person to make a prompt declaration,” Maag said.
Staff Lt. Chad McGinty, a spokesman for the Ohio Highway Patrol, however, said “If I was going to be interrupted at a traffic stop that is the one I would gladly take: ‘Excuse me, officer, I have a handgun.’”
The bill wouldn’t prohibit a police officer from asking if there is a gun in the vehicle, and McGinty said declaring a gun would make the situation safer for both the officer and driver.
The Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association agrees with the Highway Patrol. Sheriff’s Association lobbyist McKenzie Davis told the Dispatch the bill “sent off tons of red flags for us.”
“If you have a loaded handgun and you don’t tell me about it, and I find it, or you reach for your registration and your coat flops open and I see the butt of your handgun, I’m going to get pretty nervous,” McGinty said. “That’s not a good situation for the permit-holder or the officer."
Meanwhile, Maag said he is proposing that guns be allowed in the Statehouse parking garages because he is at a disadvantage because he’s forced to leave his gun at home when he drives to work. The bill wouldn’t end the ban on guns in the Statehouse itself, or in other state-owned buildings.
“I don’t think anybody can tell me what time I might need [a gun],” Maag said. “If you knew that, you wouldn’t carry one except for that minute. Some people travel a great distance, back roads.”
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