JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio — Gun owners in Ohio may soon be able to carry handguns with reduced restrictions as House Bill 227 moves through the 134th General Assembly this week.
"Constitutional carry does exactly what the 2nd Amendment says, and it makes sure our 2nd Amendment rights shall not be infringed," Representative Ron Ferguson said.
"House Bill 227 has been around for quite a while, multiple different general assemblies. Basically, what House Bill 227 says is that someone can carry a handgun or a concealed firearm without a permit. Now, let me be clear that when I say that, we'd still like to see people get training."
The bill has already been passed in 21 other states. Aside from changing the carry law, a few other parts of the bill are of high interest to some.
"We have cleaned up some language in this, and there is two key points, I think we need to identify,” Representative Don Jones said. “One of them is places of worship. This has been in contention for quite a while, and what we're saying in this bill is it's up to the local church, the congregation, the preacher, whoever is in charge, they can decide if they want people to be able to carry within their places of worship or not."
It will also provide clarification on the duty to notify when pulled over by a law enforcement officer.
"Instead of a person who's pulled over having to tell law enforcement that they are carrying a concealed weapon. The law enforcement officer will instead ask the person, ‘were you carrying a concealed weapon?’ Because a lot of times when it's a high stress situation, of course you just got pulled over, a lot of people have been in that situation before, you may be a little upset or panicked and may forget -- and then that is a crime,” Ferguson said. “Instead, this is the law enforcement officer who's in that situation a lot more asking the person if they are carrying, then of course the person would respond."
Jones says the bill could help provide extra security for residents.
"As a person who does have a concealed handgun license, you hope you never have to use that gun,” Jones said. “It's a sense of security. But, in today's world, you never know if you break down along the road who may stop behind you before somebody stops to help."
There is going to be people on the other side that might argue there's been an increase in gun violence, increase in those interactions with police where they were pulled over either way and they shouldn't have been.
Some may say this is going to maybe add to that violence.
“We have found that in those states where they have already passed similar legislation that there has not been a rise in gun violence or death due to guns,” Jones said.
"This is really something for the law-abiding citizen."
The general assembly is in session both Tuesday and Wednesday this week and the bill is expected to be voted on one of those days.