(The Center Square) – The Ohio Senate has solidified gun rights, limited government power in an emergency and clarified knives are included in the right to bear arms.
Senate Bill 185, which passed 23-7, stops the state or local governments from confiscating any lawfully owned gun during a declared emergency. Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said it protects Ohioans’ right to protect themselves and does not add any new gun rights.
“This legislation will protect the rights of Ohioans to their firearms recognizing their natural right to self-defense, as well as to feed their families during times of declared emergencies,” Schaffer said.
State governments around the country shut down businesses and established stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some states also limited gun sales. Ohio did not limit gun sales.
Schaffer said 24 other states, including Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, have similar laws.
“This bill is critical to proactively define the limits of government power to limit their abuses,” Schaffer said.
The Ohio Municipal League testified against the bill, saying it removes home rule, and Sen. Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Avondale, said it removes local government authority.
“This bill is sort of like a Christmas tree wish list regarding removing the municipal legislative powers,” Thomas said. "In doing that, you’re creating an environment where local control has really no authority to manage the process. It’s basically denying the local government the ability to protect their local community as they deem appropriate."
SB 185 now heads to the House for consideration.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 156, 23-7. It adds knives to the section of the Ohio Constitution concerning a resident's right to bear arms.
“The most important thing it does is it adds two little words – and knives – to the back of section 9.68, which addresses our rights and freedoms of Ohioans with our right to bear arms,” said Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson.
Roegner said the bill received no opposition in committee, and House Bill 243 was amended recently to contain the same language as the Senate bill.
"Ohioans carrying knives, whether for work or self-defense, face a confusing and impossible to follow patchwork of local ordinances" Roegner said. "Currently, what is legal to carry and possess in one town may be a serious crime to possess in another. Senate Bill 156 is criminal justice reform legislation that seeks to save law-abiding citizens from entrapment while traveling throughout the state."