Vehicle-firearm bill advances in Ohio

| 3/24/2006

Despite the threat of a veto from Gov. Bob Taft, the Ohio House overwhelmingly approved a bill this month that would alter the state's gun-carrying law.

“It's too early to say we'll veto it, but I'm very opposed to the changes that are in the House legislation,” Taft told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

Ohio law now requires firearms to be in “plain sight” when inside a vehicle, whether they are holstered or in a closed case – unless they are locked in a glove box.

Rep. Jim Aslanides, R-Coshocton, said the rule is too difficult to follow. He told The Plain Dealer some people might carry a holster on parts of their body where an officer might not be able to see it, putting them in violation of the law.

To help prevent licensed gun owners from violating the law, the bill would allow them to carry their firearms hidden inside a vehicle while driving.

Aslanides said the provision in his bill would bring Ohio in line with nearly every other state with a concealed carry gun law.

The measure also would supersede local gun ordinances and make the concealed carry law uniform throughout the state.

Anyone found to be in illegal possession of a loaded handgun in a vehicle would face between six and 18 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. Existing state law limits jail time to between six and 12 months with fines of $2,500. In addition, the penalty for failure to tell law enforcement during a traffic stop that a gun is in the vehicle could result in 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. State law now limits offenders to 30 days behind bars and/or a $250 fine.

HB347 has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.