Ohio House Bill 142 would eliminate the requirement for concealed weapons holders to notify police that they are carrying a handgun in their vehicle. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, and has been referred to committee.
Under current Ohio law, concealed-handgun-license holders stopped by police or other law-enforcement officials must disclose that they are carrying a handgun. Failure to notify police promptly can result in a six-month suspension of the person’s concealed-weapon license and a misdemeanor charge.
The bill’s sponsor argues that the requirement leaves open a vagueness if multiple officers or law enforcement agencies are present and/or interact with the license holder.
Wiggam told Cincinnati.com that the current law is arbitrarily enforced — because a driver involved in a car accident who legally discloses this information to three officers can still be cited for failing to disclose to a fourth officer who arrives later.
Plus, Wiggam explained, “There’s no duty to promptly notify for anything else,”
Similar mandates to clarify the presence of a legally concealed handgun exist in eight other states including neighboring Michigan. In most states, drivers only need to inform law enforcement of the presence of a firearm and CHL status when asked directly, though any information can be offered voluntarily by the licensee.
Opponents of the Ohio measure believe self-notification is important because, even though officers are able to run a license plate to determine if the owner of the vehicle has a concealed-weapon permit, it doesn’t tell them the driver’s status if the car is driven by a family member, friend, or most notably, someone who has stolen the vehicle.
The bill also features strong language about what isn’t a handgun and ensures that similar protections are not afforded to other weapons. The bill, as currently modified, notes, “No person shall knowingly carry or have, concealed on the person’s person or concealed ready at hand, any of the following: (1) A deadly weapon other than a handgun; (2) A handgun other than a dangerous ordnance; (3) A dangerous ordnance.”
In addition, the bill spells out that the permit holder must keep hands in plain sight, and that he/she must not knowingly remove or attempt to remove the handgun from a holster or pocket or otherwise come into contact with and/or touch the firearm when the officer is approaching or present.
The bill has the support of Ohioans For Concealed Carry, as well as the Buckeye Firearms Association, whose President Jim Irvine told Cincinnati.com that he believes that Ohio residents would be better served if law enforcement focused on more serious crimes, as well as on the state’s heroin epidemic, rather than on citing gun owners for forgetting to notify police that they have a concealed handgun license.
“It’s not in everyone’s best interest to tie up resources,” said Irvine. — by Peter Suciu, contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog