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Ohio's new permitless carry law goes into effect

Tucked in a belt pistol being concealed
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On June 13, an Ohio law allowing anyone over 21 to carry a concealed weapon in public goes into effect.

On June 13, an Ohio law allowing anyone over 21 to carry a concealed weapon in public goes into effect. The law is the latest measure in the state to loosen restrictions on gun owners. There are several more under consideration in Ohio's legislature.

The loosening of Ohio's gun laws comes as the country grapples with mass shootings — 260 in 2022 so far, according to the Gun Violence archive. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators said on Sunday they have reached a deal on a package of safety and gun-related measures.

Here's how changes to Ohio's concealed carry law will affect gun owners and how fewer restrictions might affect public safety for all Ohioans.

Ideastream Public Media's Matt Richmond spoke with WCPN's Morning Edition Host Amy Eddings about how changes to the concealed carry law will affect gun owners in Ohio and how fewer restrictions might affect public safety for all Ohioans.

EDDINGS: What's changing when the law takes effect June 13?

RICHMOND: First, if you're over 21 and can buy a handgun under federal law, you'll be able to carry it concealed in public.

And also if the police stop you while you're driving, you'll no longer be required to notify the officer that you are a concealed carry permit holder and you're carrying a firearm. Instead, you'll just have to, if asked, tell the officer about the gun.

So it's up to the police officer to ask you if you have a gun. How does that change the rules we have right now?

Right now, to conceal carry, you have to get a permit from a sheriff. And when you go in, the sheriff does a background check. They consider things like whether there's a protection order against you. And you're also required to have eight hours of firearms training.

What's in that training?

It depends. There's no standard training that everyone has to get. It can include things like making sure that if you have a gun in your home, that it's stored in a way that a kid can't get his or her hands on it.

It can include training on how to make sure there's not a round in the chamber if you're using a semiautomatic firearm.

Keep in mind that federal firearms rules aren't changing, so you're still subject to a background check if you go to a federally licensed gun dealer, and if you've been convicted of certain crimes, then you can't buy and you're not allowed to own the gun.

This is just for carrying it in public.

We're just talking about concealed carry. When this law goes into effect, a gun owner will not need to go to a local sheriff's office every five years to renew a concealed carry permit. So what effect will that change have, if you're not checking in with your sheriff every five years?

I think the best way to try to measure that is that every year, around 2,000 license holders in Ohio have had their licenses suspended or revoked. That means maybe the permit holder moved out of state. Maybe that permit holder has been charged or convicted of a crime or had a protection order taken out against them. And so there won't be any more check-ins like that. Last year, more than 2,500 applications were denied.

This lack of a check-in to me seems especially problematic. Has there been any studies done about concealed carry permits — states that require them, states that no longer require them and whether there is any affect on violent crime rates?

That is a little difficult to nail down because it's hard to take the concealed carry law and separate it from all the other factors that go into violent crime.

But a recent review by The Washington Post compared the 42 states in the country that either have no concealed carry law, which is where Ohio is headed, or what's known as a "shall issue" law. It's what Ohio has right now. It's the most permissive permitting requirement, where you just have to pass the background check and do the eight hours versus the eight states in the country that have what are known as "may issue." Basically have to show, when you go to see the sheriff, you have to show you have a need for that gun. And they found that in those eight states there were lower homicide rates than the national average every year between 2016 and 2020.

There have been years of studies that have tried to look at this and some have found no real difference, but there have been a lot that found when you removed the concealed carry permit requirement, you end up eventually with a higher murder rate.

Matt Richmond comes to Binghamton's WSKG, a WRVO partner station in the Innovation Trail consortium, from South Sudan, where he worked as a stringer for Bloomberg, and freelanced for Radio France International, Voice of America, and German Press Agency dpa. He has worked with KQED in Los Angeles, Cape Times in Cape Town, South Africa, and served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon. Matt's masters in journalism is from the Annenberg School for Communication at USC.