In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting just more than one year ago, a disturbing national trend emerged: Gun sales surged as many states relaxed gun laws already on the books. In Ohio, the Republican-controlled legislature, often eager to follow the National Rifle Association’s agenda, is looking at a number of ways to roll back gun laws.
One of the most ill-considered would eliminate the requirement to get a license to carry a concealed weapon. The bill, recently introduced by Republican Reps. Ron Hood of Ashville and Matt Lynch of Bainbridge Township, would allow anyone at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed firearm, as long as no other law prohibited the person from doing so.
This wildly expansive view of Second Amendment rights would end the reasonable process put in place for those who wish to get a concealed carry license. Under current law, applicants must take a training course, be fingerprinted and undergo mental competency and criminal background checks.
The action by Hood and Lynch follows House passage of a bill that would weaken training requirements for concealed carry and end the state’s requirement that one has a duty to retreat, if possible, before using deadly force in self-defense. Among other measures awaiting action is a bill that would make it a felony for police to enforce any new federal gun restrictions and one that would allow silencers on hunting rifles.
As Jim Carney, a Beacon Journal staff writer, reported Saturday, the number of concealed carry licenses taken out in Summit County has increased dramatically this year, hardly an indication that the process for getting one is creating an undue burden. If anything, background checks should be expanded and made more thorough as a sensible precaution against future violence.
No rights are absolute, a point that Hood, Lynch and their allies struggle to grasp. They are correct to say that some will carry weapons without a license. But the risk posed by those who willfully ignore the law fails to justify dismantling its pragmatic protections.