MANSFIELD: More Ohioans are carrying concealed guns and with fewer restrictions 10 years after the state began allowing concealed carry guns.

The bill’s sponsor and gun lobbyists predicted when the law was enacted that more than 150,000 people would sign up for concealed carry licenses the first few years, but that didn’t happen, the Mansfield News Journal reported.

Anti-gun advocates predicted an increase in violence. Gun-related deaths have increased since then, largely caused by more suicides, but crime overall has decreased, according to state health department and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting records. Research conducted on concealed carry laws’ effects on crime rates nationwide has been mixed.

One clear change over the past decade has been a reduction in Ohio restrictions involving concealed handguns. They earlier couldn’t be carried in cars, purses and bags. License renewals were required every four years along with a second competency test. Concealed carry guns weren’t allowed in bars or public parking lots, and local governments could implement their own, more restrictive licensing rules.

Those restrictions have since been lifted. Gun advocates say changes were needed to get rid of rules that were too restrictive, while those opposing concealed carry say reduced restrictions encroach on the freedoms of Ohioans who don’t carry hidden guns.

The number of new concealed carry permits issued to Ohioans has increased, doubling since 2010. Sheriff’s offices last year issued 96,972 new concealed handgun licenses, according to the newspaper.

The biggest remaining restriction is “no gun zones,” the newspaper reported.