COLUMBUS — Concerned moms, college professors and others spoke out Wednesday against legislation that would allow concealed firearms in day care centers, on university campuses and at other public sites.
Opponents of HB 48 say the bill would endanger lives rather than protect them.
“There are some that seem to embrace the faulty assumption that if there is an active shooter, the responsible conceal-carry licensee will shoot them, save the day, and end the situation,” said Steve Mockabee, an associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati. “However, as we have seen with mass shooting incidents around our country, these are highly chaotic situations. What happens when many people are drawing firearms and no one knows who the aggressor is? How will law enforcement properly diffuse the situation?”
The Senate’s Government Oversight and Reform had its third hearing Wednesday on HB 48, with more than two dozen people — mostly opponents of the legislation — offering testimony.
The panel did not vote on the bill, meaning there likely won’t be a floor vote on it this week.
Among other provisions, HB 48 would lift restrictions on carrying concealed weapons in day care centers or homes, on private aircrafts or in other government buildings. The list would include portions of airports terminals outside of screening checkpoints or restricted areas.
The proposed law changes would reduce to a minor misdemeanor the unauthorized carrying of concealed handguns by permitted individuals on college campuses, as long as those charged can produce a valid concealed carry license within 10 days of their arrest.
The bill also would allow concealed carry at public universities, if those campuses’ governing bodies authorize it.
The bill passed the Ohio House last year. The Ohio Senate appears poised to pass the bill before the end of the current lame duck session. Lawmakers expect to complete their work by the end of next week.
Marian Harris, a former state lawmaker, was among the opponents offering testimony Wednesday. She said the legislation would infringe on the rights of Ohioans “who wish to live apart from the presence of concealed firearms in public places, in places that care for or teach our children and youth.”
She added, “None of these changes increases the security of Ohioans from gun violence. On the contrary, by expanding the rights of concealed carry licensees to take guns into more places and reducing penalties for concealed carry violations, the rights of Ohioans to be free of the possible intimidation, accidental loss or discharge, or assault by a concealed carry holder who may lose his or her composure are diminished by this bill. Any of these possibilities is potentially deadly due to the dangers inherent with any loaded firearm.”
Karen Teeple, from the University of Toledo, voiced concern about combining concealed carry firearms and college bing drinking.
“Would it be safe to have these students carry a concealed weapon on campus, which may increase homicide or suicide rates?” she asked. “I believe that this is a pragmatic issue and a serious concern for public and campus safety. Bringing guns to campus would destroy the sanctuary-type atmosphere that belongs on a college campus… Let’s not arm them.”
Amy Thompson, also from the University of Toledo, said university campuses are already safe places.
“The bottom line is this: This is not a good idea,” she said. “We can’t expect that an armed college student or faculty member is going to save the day. Even police that are trained hit the target 25 percent of the time… We have never found a reported incident … in which a victim or spectator of a violent crime on a campus has prevented that crime by brandishing a weapon.”
The debate on the bill comes after an incident at Ohio State University Monday, when a Muslim student, an immigrant from Somalia, drove his car into a crowd of people standing outside a building, then exited the vehicle and stabbed people in the vicinity with a large knife.
Abdul Razak Ali Artan was shot and killed by an OSU officer who was already on the scene responding to a gas leak.
Eleven people were injured in the attack; most were treated and released from hospitals, and none sustained life-threatening injuries.
The Islamic State reportedly took credit for inspiring the attack, and news outlets, including NBC News, have reported social media postings by Artan voicing anger at the treatment of Muslims around the world.
Investigators have not offered a motive for the attack.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.