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Butler County officials weigh in on Ohio's new concealed-carry law

Published By Journal-News on June 17, 2022
Thomas Hall In The News

BUTLER COUNTY — A new law allowing Ohioans to carry a hidden gun without a concealed-carry permit took effect Monday, raising some concerns from Butler County law enforcement.

Under the new law, people are no longer required to take hours of training that was required to get a Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit. And if stopped by a police officer, a person with a concealed weapon no longer has to tell officers about it unless they are asked.

Middletown Police Chief David Birk told the Journal-News he has two points of concern.
“With a permit, it required you to go through some remedial training, not a lot, but some,” Birk said. ”I have concerns about accidental shootings without some training. With novice people buying guns and not really knowing how to break it down and safely clean it, I think there will be more accidental shootings.

“That will affect us because we are not going to know the situation. We will just get a call of shots fired,” he said.

Birk said the law brings up safety concerns for officers who previously had some notification through the permit process when stopping a vehicle if the licensed owner had a CCW permit. And the person carrying a gun is no longer required to tell officers if stopped.

“Now we have to ask. We are making sure officers are asking — sooner than later,” Birk said.

In April 2004 Ohioans were first permitted to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public for a fee, with training required and a background check. The permit process, carried out by county sheriff’s offices, has keep the Butler County Sheriff’s Office busy for years.

This week, Sheriff Richard Jones said business is down 50 to 60 percent, “and it has just been since Monday.”

Jones said the benefit to receiving a CCW permit or renewing one is if you go out of state and plan to carry a gun.

“Yes it is permitless carry in Ohio, but not so in all other states,” Jones said.

The sheriff advocates some training for new gun owners

“Anytime you can get training, that is a good thing. I encourage anyone who has a firearm to try to get some training on how to use it safety. You should be familiar with your weapon, how to clean it, how to unload it safely,” Jones said, adding even skilled officers occasionally have accidental discharges.

The sheriff said he does not see the law as a big concern to officer safety — any more that already exists in today environment.

“We assume everybody has a gun anyway,” Jones said. “All cops assume when they pull someone over, young, old, middle-aged ... that they are carrying guns.”

But Jones said, deputies are now being trained to ask from the get-go if a person is armed.

“It is the law and it keeps you on your toes. Know what we can do about it? Absolutely nothing,” the sheriff said.

Jones said people are scared and concerned for their safety and have the right to defend themselves.

“It is the times we live in,” he said, adding new law might end up “saving lives.”

At the height of the CCW permit process, three deputies were assigned to process thousands of applications. Jones said they will be reassigned as that demand continues to go down.

Ohio Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., was a strong supporter of the bill, adding the constitution is all that is needed for CCW.

“In my opinion, the second amendment of our constitution of the United States of America is our concealed carry permit,” Lang said.

Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., and the son of a sheriff’s deputy, said “With a consistent track record of being a strong supporter of gun rights and the Second Amendment, I proudly co-sponsored and voted to approve this legislation. Law abiding citizens have the right under our Constitution to bear arms and we further secured that right by passing the concealed carry bill now becoming law for residents throughout Butler County.”

Kathy Wyenandt, Butler County Democratic Party chairman, said the party is disappointed in the governor’s support of the new law.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised, that Governor DeWine is again too afraid to stand up to his gun lobby donors. Ohio is home to some of the most extreme gun laws in the country. Permitless carry will only make Ohioans less safe and was widely opposed by groups around the state, including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police,” Wyenandt said. “By essentially allowing anyone over age 21 to carry a firearm, even without a background check, Mike DeWine has shown that he is willing to put countless lives on the line to curry favor with special interests and to score political points. We need leaders who put the health and safety of Ohioans first.”

Michael Weinman, director of governmental affairs for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police said, “It’s still a bad bill. There’s going to be people without any training, without any background check (carrying guns).”

What’s in the new law?

The new law has three major provisions:

· A person at least 21 years old who is otherwise legally allowed to have a gun can carry it concealed without a permit. That means someone without a criminal history does not have to apply for a permit at their local sheriff’s office.

· Holders of a current concealed-carry permit no longer have to carry that license with them.

· If stopped by police, a person with a concealed weapon no longer has to tell officers about it unless they’re specifically asked.

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