Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary - Criminal Justice Committee passed Senate Bill 239 which contains reforms for Restaurant Carry and vehicle transport. The next step is to go before the full Senate.
An article in The Columbus Dispatch (Bill expanding Ohio's concealed-carry law advances in Senate) does a fair job of reporting on the issue and the irrational opposition from some law enforcement groups.
If passed into law, this bill would remove the ban on a concealed handgun licensee carrying a firearm into an establishment that serves liquor as long as that person does not drink any alcoholic beverage. The opposition is framing this as an issue with bars but it is more an issue regarding restaurants.
The second provision would remove the current restrictions placed on a licensee carrying a firearm in a motor vehicle. Right now, a licensee has to have the firearm in a holster attached to his/her body, in a case that has a closing mechanism that must be manipulated in order to open the closed case and the case must be in plain sight, or in a closed case that is locked. The locked case doesn't need to be in plain sight.
Not only is there no definition of what constitutes "plain sight" (it is up to the discretion of law enforcement at the time) but this leaves open the possibility of becoming an accidental felon. If a woman has a gun in her purse and sets it on the floor that is perfectly legal. If she puts her coat on the seat and hits the brakes making the coat fall on the floor covering her purse, she is committing a felony. A person can legally carry a firearm in a coat pocket (a common practice when the weather gets cold) but if he/she gets into a car that's a felony unless a pocket holster is used. This second provision merely removes all that and makes it so as long as you have a concealed handgun license you can carry how you want.
Cleveland police detective Stephen Loomis has dire predictions for this legislation.
I have spent a career dealing with problems in bars, nightclubs, entertainment-district restaurants and men's clubs, and I can tell you without doubt or hesitation the introduction of firearms ... will result in the senseless loss of human life.
I look forward to him eating his words.
Mark Drum of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio said he is worried about "quick-draw" holsters in vehicles or CHL holders twirling their guns while driving. He also predicted that the idea of a "designated driver" would be replaced by a "designated shooter." I'm not sure how one person remaining sober to protect the others is a bad thing.
The truth of the matter is that more than 40 states, including every single state surrounding Ohio, have some provision in their law for carrying firearms into establishments that serve liquor. If these wild-eyed predictions aren't true in the other states why would they happen here? Are Ohioans less responsible than their neighbors?