The Corner

Ohio Republicans Introduce Constitutional Carry Bill

Per the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Republican legislators propose eliminating the license required to carry a concealed handgun in Ohio, a change one describes as an effort to put Second Amendment rights on the same footing as others in the Bill of Rights.

The bill, introduced Wednesday by Reps. Ron Hood of Ashville and Matt Lynch of Bainbridge Township in Geauga County, would allow any person who is at least 21 years old to carry a concealed firearm, so long as they are not legally prohibited for some reason from having guns.

“The person’s right to carry a concealed firearm … that is granted under this division is the same right as is granted to a person who was issued a concealed handgun license,” the bill says.

Lynch described it as the “constitutional carry bill.”

Until a few years ago, the only state with “constitutional carry” was (by virtue of a quirk of history) Vermont. Since 2007, though, the idea has caught on, with Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas all abolishing their mandatory permitting systems. As the Plain Dealer notes, the argument in favor of the provision is simple:

Lynch said the bill is an effort to treat the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment with the same freedom as other rights.

“The right in the Second Amendment is the only one in the Bill of Rights that you have to get permission for,” Lynch said.

“You don’t have to have a speech license or a worship license or a freedom of the press license,” he said. “This is designed to put the Second Amendment on equal footing.”

In other words, in states with “constitutional carry,” citizens enjoy the right to bear arms as a matter of course, rather than at the discretion of the state government. 

After a shameful period in the twentieth century in which the right to keep and bear arms was eroded nationwide, the Second Amendment has recently undergone something of a restoration. All 50 states now have some form of concealed carry regime — a development that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago — and some have gone even further, removing the permitting process completely. If Ohio were to join the five states that have taken the latter step, it would perhaps mark the idea’s transformation from fringe arrangement to mainstream option. Suffice it to say that if a state such as Ohio can change its system to “constitutional carry” then so can Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and so forth – let alone already friendly states in the South and the Southwest. California and the New England states will probably resist, but that’s to be expected.

The Ohio initiative strikes me as having a good shot. For a start, in the state’s senate, Republicans have 23 seats to the Democrats’ 10. In the House, meanwhile, Republicans have 61 representatives to the Democrats’ 38. Ohio’s governor is a Republican, too, and he may want to be seen to do something conservative having taken so much flack for the recent Medicaid expansion.

Here’s hoping.