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Ohio on the Cutting Edge?

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Two Republicans in the Ohio Assembly have introduced into the state a concept known as “constitutional carry.” This, of course, refers to the right to bear arms.

Ohio currently operates under a “concealed carry” regime that allows residents to carry concealed firearms if they meet certain requirements. Constitutional carry would eliminate the requirements.

Simply put, the logic of the proposal holds that citizens do not have to gain permission from the state to exercise other rights; therefore, neither should they have to get permission to exercise Second Amendment rights.

As the bill’s co-sponsor, State Rep. Matt Lynch, put it, “The right in the Second Amendment is the only one in the Bill of Rights that you have to get permission for.” Put another way, “You don’t have to have a speech license or a worship license or a freedom of the press license,” he said.

Lynch thinks constitutional carry merely puts the right to bear arms “on equal footing” with other rights.

The bill will surely have strident opponents just as much as it will have ardent supporters. After all, there are opposing camps on the issue pulling in opposite directions. Nationally, Democrats are generally pushing for tighter controls on guns, while Republicans are broadly seeking to either keep the status quo or to remove restrictions.

It is in this fight that Ohio could prove influential to the national direction of gun policy.

As National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke noted, for a time, “the right to keep and bear arms was eroded nationwide,” but now “the Second Amendment has recently undergone something of a restoration.” Constitutional carry is a relatively recent development in this trend.

Thus far, only gun-friendly states in the south and southwest have passed constitutional carry measures, but if Ohio—a middle-of-the-road battleground state, perhaps the bellwether state—were to do so, it might “mark the idea’s transformation from fringe arrangement to mainstream option.” In time, Cooke posits that states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and others might follow suit.

As the bill proceeds in the Ohio Assembly, the familiar debate will likely return. Democrats will argue against it, noting mass shootings and positing that gun control is necessary to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerous and so on. Republicans will cite evidence that political entities with freer gun rights tend to have less violence and, after all, bearing arms is a constitutional right. With GOP control of both houses in the legislature and the governor’s mansion, the measure might just pass.

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