Thursday, December 11, 2003

Concealed-carry bill nearer

Lawmakers, governor approaching deal

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - House and Senate lawmakers, while debating public records issues and legal defenses, moved closer Wednesday to passing a bill allowing Ohioans to carry concealed weapons.

Sen. Doug White, a Manchester Republican, declined to discuss details but said there was "a concept agreement" between House and Senate lawmakers.

"We're working very aggressively right now," he said.

White said an agreement with the governor's office was "pretty close."

The Legislature has been unable to pass a concealed weapons bill for eight years.

A committee working out differences between House and Senate versions was scheduled to meet tonight.

"We're trying to work something out," Taft said. "There's no point in talking any more about it."

Lawmakers were working on a compromise involving concealed weapons in cars. People who carry concealed weapons could keep the gun in a holster while driving, instead of taking it out of the holster and placing it in a locked glove compartment or container, under the proposal.

Capt. John Born, Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman, said he was waiting to see the final version of the bill.

"We do not want concealed, loaded guns in cars, which is the position we've held since 1996," Born said Wednesday.

In addition, reporters would be allowed access to limited public records on a name-by-name basis under Householder's compromise. Taft's insistence that the names of permit holders be public stalled recent negotiations over the bill.

Householder said the compromise would also allow sheriffs to issue a temporary concealed-carry permit. This would address differences over a provision of law that allows people arrested for carrying a hidden gun to prove to prosecutors or a judge that the practice is essential for safety reasons.

That provision is known as an affirmative defense.

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