The state’s provocatively-named “Guns Everywhere” proposal has raised some hackles here in Oberlin.
City council is drafting a resolution opposing House Bill 48, which if passed by the Ohio Senate would allow concealed firearms to be carried at colleges and in daycare centers, police stations, many government buildings, school safety zones, airports, and aircraft.
The measure, which has already been passed by the Ohio House of Representatives, previously included churches but that language has been removed.
“We believe we have a right to define the tenor of our community” and more guns aren’t desirable, said Oberlin city council vice president Linda Slocum during a public meeting Friday with Ohio Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville).
About a dozen turned out at the Oberlin Public Library, including a delegation from Ohioans for Safe Communities, a gun violence prevention non-profit.
OSC spokesman David Eggert told Manning the group wanted her help as a Republican in the Senate who has a balanced view.
Ohio’s concealed carry law has been on the books since 2004 with strict limitations for public places that are off-limits.
Eggert lamented efforts in recent years to relax concealed carry restrictions, including allowing weapons in bars (provided the permit-holder does not drink) and reducing the number of training hours required to get a permit from 12 to eight.
The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association are among the high-profile groups that oppose HB 48.
The League of Women Voters of Ohio also lodged a protest against the bill last June in testimony before the House’s State Government Committee.
The LWVO believes that the proliferation of handguns in the additional places identified in HB 48 increases the chance for deadly mishap or escalated violence,” spokeswoman Rosie Craig said. “This bill is part of a wider movement to continually weaken the original CCW statute, which LWVO opposed in 2004.”
Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, co-president of the LWVO, echoed that sentiment Friday to Manning, saying gun laws need to do more to protect those who do not carry firearms.
John Elder, former pastor of First Church in Oberlin, also voiced discontent over HB 48. He said gun owners have persuaded themselves the world is such a dangerous place that their lives are at risk if they don’t have a firearm at hand.
Others have fashioned themselves as “saviors in waiting” to protect the unarmed, said Elder, but pose a real danger of friendly fire if they decide to start shooting.
Manning for the most part listened and did not offer her thoughts on the bill. She said she wants her vote to reflect the will of her district.
Emotion did creep into the discussion, however, as anti-gun passions were met with vigorous pro-gun defense from Manning’s staff.
Manning said she has twice taken a concealed carry class but opted not to get a permit.
She related a story about a sheriff who led a concealed carry course and shared his opinion: that those with firearms permits have been trained and subjected to background checks, and that no instances of gun violence have been committed by concealed carry permit-holders.
Should HB 48 pass, some places of business, private institutions, and government offices would likely still be able to bar concealed carry locally.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Oberlin News-Tribune Ohio Sen. Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) speaks Friday at the Oberlin Public Library. The most controversial topic was proposed changes to the state’s concealed carry law.