Three weeks after a student plowed a car into a crowd at Ohio State University and attacked people with a butcher knife, Governor John Kasich signed a bill that dramatically expands the number of places people with conceal carry licenses can bring firearms.
The new law, which takes effect in 90 days, lifts a blanket ban on carrying firearms on college campuses and into daycares, part of airport terminals, and government buildings. It also requires that businesses allow employees to stash their weapons in their vehicles while at work.
The legislation marks the most significant expansion of gun-carrying rights in the U.S. since September, when the Missouri legislature enacted a “stand your ground” law and a measure allowing people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit. In August, Texas implemented a law extending gun rights to colleges campuses.
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Since taking office in 2011, the governor has not vetoed a single pro-gun bill passed by the legislature.
The legislation was born in the middle of the night. At 3:10 a.m., on December 9, Ohio state lawmakers scrambled to pass a series of gun measures that had variously been opposed by the state police chiefs association and the chamber of commerce. As The Trace reported last week, one bill, in its original form, sought to extend civil rights protections to workers with concealed carry permits who want to leave their guns in their cars while at work.
The civil rights provisions were dropped, but a version that would still make illegal for employers to ban guns from their parking lots survived. An investigation published by The Trace earlier this year found that the number of guns stolen from parked cars in many cities is on the rise.
The guns-in-parking-lots provision was rolled into an omnibus bill that also included the airport, daycare, and campus carry language.
It is currently illegal to carry a concealed gun onto the grounds of any state college or university. Under the new law, which takes effect in 90 days, higher education institutions in Ohio — like in 23 other states — will be free to set their own policies. (In Texas, however, public universities must opt in.)
The law also reduces penalties for people who choose to ignore bans on concealed weapons in private and public spaces. Under current law, violating a business or school’s gun prohibition can result in a felony charge. Now, first-time offenders, who can produce a permit, will receive a minor misdemeanor, which means a fine of up to $150.
Along with with Ohio’s colleges, government buildings in the state will now be free to set their own concealed carry policies. Any permit holder who ignores a ban will, likewise, face a minor misdemeanor, so long as it is the first time he or she has disregarded the policy.
Different rules apply to active duty military personnel. Schools and government buildings that choose to allow concealed carry do not need to require soldiers to have a permit.
Childcare centers that want to ban guns from their premises must now post signs barring people from carrying firearms. If a permit holder violates the policy, and the weapon is unloaded, it can result in a first-degree misdemeanor, or up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the gun is loaded, it will be considered a felony.