Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) signed a bill making it legal for state residents to carry a gun without first obtaining a state permit. With his signature, Ohio has become the 23rd state in the nation to enact constitutional carry legislation.
Senate Bill 215 allows anyone over 21, and who is legally eligible to own a firearm, to concealed carry. It also removes the requirement that citizens inform a police officer they are carrying a weapon, although they must disclose the fact if asked. The law takes effect 90 days after its signature.
Advocates say the bill more perfectly respects the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as intended by America’s Founding Fathers. “The constitution of the U.S. does not require you to have a permit or license to exercise the rights that are prescribed in the constitution,” said State Senator Niraj Antani, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Among those rights is the second amendment which is the right to bear arms.”
The new law comes as the state capital, Columbus, became one of a dozen Democrat-controlled cities to set record-breaking homicide numbers in 2021: 204 murders, or one every 1.8 days. The city’s homicide rate had already risen by 67% in 2020 — a higher rate than Chicago.
In response, the number of concealed carry permits obtained by Ohioans surged 20% last year over 2020, to 202,920, according to the state attorney general. The state already allows the open carry of firearms.
“A person who lives, works and drives through areas that have recently exploded in violence should not have to complete government paperwork, submit to a background check, take a class, and then wait on the government to exercise a right guaranteed by the state of Ohio,” said Rob Sexton of the Buckeye Firearms Association in January.
Some law enforcement officers, such as Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey, opposed the bill, saying it would increase gun violence. But a plurality of police officers said that allowing civilians greater ability to carry concealed weapons would “have the most impact” in “preventing large scale shootings in public” in a 2013 survey.
Gun rights advocates thanked the governor for making the legislation a reality. “Gov. DeWine made a campaign promise to Buckeye Firearms Association and to Ohio’s 4 million gun owners that he would sign a Constitutional Carry bill if it was put on his desk. And he has fulfilled his promise,” said Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association.
The National Rifle Association thanked “Gov. DeWine for signing this critical bill that upholds the Second Amendment in Ohio, for the benefit of law-abiding citizens,” as well as “bill sponsor Senator Terry Johnson (R-14), Chairman Shane Wilkin of the House Government Oversight Committee, and all the other lawmakers who sent this bill to Gov. DeWine’s desk.”
DeWine, who is up for reelection this year, had not championed the bill’s passage.
After a mass shooting in Dayton in 2019, DeWine unveiled a series of gun restrictions he would support: The package included so-called “red flag” laws, which would allow judges to seize firearms from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others, and background checks for virtually all gun purchases. While he admitted many such measures would not have prevented the shooting, he said, “If we, after tragedy, only confine ourselves to doing those things that would prevent this tragedy, we are missing the real opportunity.”
When asked whether he would sign the state’s constitutional carry bill last Friday, DeWine replied, “I’m not gonna say much today other than, the job of the governor is to make tough decisions, and I have decision to make. That’s about all I will say.”
In addition to Ohio, Georgia’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow constitutional carry on Friday by a vote of 94-57. Governor Brian Kemp (R), who faces a primary fight against Trump-endorsed challenger David Perdue, has said he will sign the bill after legislators complete the reconciliation process. “I am committed to working with both the Georgia House and Senate to get Constitutional Carry across the finish line!” Kemp said.