Daily Court Reporter - Legislation would eliminate requirement to notify police about concealed handgun
Legislation would eliminate requirement to notify police about concealed handgun
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
An onerous provision of Ohio's Concealed Carry Law is the target of a freshman lawmaker's bill that would strike from the books a licensed handgun carrier's duty to notify police of a gun in his possession during a lawful stop.
Republican Rep. Scott Wiggam of Wooster told members of the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee that it's time concealed handgun licensees are treated like every other category of citizen of the state, who have no duty to report anything to state authorities.
"No other individual is forced to take control of dialogue between themselves and the law enforcement officer," Wiggam said. "It is our job as elected representatives of the people to ensure we have clearly defined laws that uphold the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of the state of Ohio."
Under current law, concealed handgun licensees who are carrying or have a concealed weapon ready at hand and are stopped for a law enforcement purpose must promptly notify law enforcement that they have been issued a concealed handgun license, and have access to a concealed handgun.
Though the requirement may seem reasonable and harmless, Wiggam said the provision's intent was to water down an a citizen's right to carry.
"In 2004, Governor (Bob) Taft signed House Bill 12 into law, which regulated and restricted Ohioans' ability to carry concealed weapons," he recounted. "This measure aimed to clarify Ohio law regarding concealed carry, and further sought to regulate and register Ohioans who chose to defend themselves, their families, and others from immediate danger.
"However, during the drafting of HB 12, several stipulations were included that attempted to weaken the intent of the law.
Wiggam's House Bill 142 would continue the work of lawmakers to remove some of these provisions from state law.
He cited a 2009 case in which a licensed concealed handgun carrier was held at Taser-point while a police officer questioned the individual.
Because the licensed individual was unable to notify the officer within 51 seconds of the stop - presumably as a result of the high-stress encounter with law enforcement officers, police charged the man with improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle on the basis that he failed to notify the officer "promptly."
According to Wiggam, a jury subsequently found the man not guilty of the charge on the basis that the individual did not fail to promptly inform any law enforcement officer after he had been stopped.
"This language is vague, arbitrarily enforced and takes the control of the dialogue away from a law enforcement officer and gives it to the subject of a law enforcement encounter," he argued. "The penalty for violating this law is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is the same level as the penalty for operating a vehicle under the influence."
Wiggam reviewed the steps an Ohio licensee must undertake to successfully pass scrutiny to obtain a concealed carry handgun license with committee members and characterized them as "great Ohioans who have been exhaustively vetted" by the end of the process.
"Ohio was among the last states to pass concealed carry legislation," he said. "Over 40 other states that permit concealed carry do not put the onus to notify on the citizen.
"It is time that Ohio stands for the constitutional rights of its citizens, and House Bill 142 is a great step in the right direction."
HB 142, which had not been scheduled for further hearing at time of publication, has earned the support of 15 House cosponsors.
Date Published: May 8, 2017