Friday, September 21, 2001

Concealed-weapon bill revised again


Law enforcement support is shaky

By Travis James Tritten
Enquirer Columbus Bureau

        COLUMBUS — As a House committee prepares to make changes on a concealed weapons bill, key special-interest groups have threatened to withhold support.

        A proposal by Rep. Jim Aslanides, R-Coshocton, would allow sheriffs to issue concealed weapons permits to residents who complete a background check and firearms training.

        Among other things, the committee will be considering changes in the proposal's training requirements, a component that has been the focus of much debate, said Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin, R-Aurora, the committee chairwoman.

        “There will be a lot of training requirements we will be reviewing in the coming weeks,” Ms. Benjamin said. Background checks, fee amounts and penalties will also be looked at.

        The committee has not said whether the new version of the bill will be more or less restrictive, something that has interest groups worried.

        The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police hinted over the summer it could support Mr. Aslanides' proposal, but changes limiting the amount of training needed could cause the group to back off.

        The group could play an important part in the future of the bill because Gov. Bob Taft has threatened to veto any concealed weapons law not supported by Ohio police. An FOP decision to support concealed weapons would divide the state's four major law enforcement groups down the middle.

        “We don't oppose the concept,” said Mike Taylor, FOP spokesman.

        But Mr. Taylor said the group wants a law requiring “substantial, real training.”

        Mr. Taylor then toughened the group's stance further by saying the bill would allow anyone convicted of a violent misdemeanor to get a concealed weapon.

        The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police continue to steadfastly opposed the proposal, saying nothing could be added to gain their support.

        The Buckeye Sheriffs' Association is the only major police group to publicly support the bill.

       



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