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Rep. Lightbody, Democrats say concealed carry bill threatens police safety and puts black lives at risk

Say GOP bill is a step in the wrong direction to end gun violence
June 15, 2020
Mary Lightbody News

House Democrats voted against House Bill 425, a GOP-backed bill that would modify concealed carry laws, eliminating the requirement for licensees to promptly notify law enforcement of their permit and if they are carrying. The bill also eliminates penalties for failure to notify, which opponents say will lead to confusion and potentially dangerous escalation—especially for people of color.

“As protestors continue to march across the country, there have been calls from law enforcement for communities to work alongside them to bridge racial divides and rebuild together. However, HB 425 is not working with police. In fact, it’s pushing through something that makes them less safe on the job while potentially putting even more black lives at risk,” said Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “No one asked for this bill. What people have asked for are commonsense solutions that keep our kids and communities safe. This is a step in the wrong direction to end gun violence, restore trust and heal the deep wounds of division in our country.”

Under current law, when stopped for a law enforcement purpose, a concealed carry licensee must promptly inform the officer of their license and disclose if they are carrying. HB 425 would require a licensee to inform and disclose before or at the time the officer asks if the person is carrying a concealed handgun. The bill also eliminates the penalty for failure to comply with the duty to notify.

Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), a concealed carry permit-holder herself, offered an amendment on the House floor to include language from her HB 240 that would ensure firearms are stored safely and securely out of the reach of minors. Republicans rejected the amendment. 

“This legislation further endangers our communities through the potential for an escalation of violence,” said Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville). “Our communities are already facing a number of difficult issues stemming from the virus and concerns about the nature of police interactions with our black and brown neighbors.  These issues need our immediate focus and full attention. I believe that this legislation will distract us from our efforts to provide relief to our communities and only serve to muddy the waters and threaten the safety of residents and police officers. Rep. Miranda’s amendment would only serve to limit the number of tragic accidents that can and do occur when guns are not stored out of reach of children; I am sorry we were not able to add that amendment to this bill."

House passage of HB 425 comes amid ongoing protests across the state and around the country following the police-involved death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.

Democrats have continually pushed for commonsense gun reforms and recently introduced a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis.

After clearing the House, the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.