Ohio Bill would decriminalize carrying a concealed weapon into a gun-free site

Concealed handgun permit holders caught carrying on school grounds and other gun-free sites would no longer be subject to prison time under a bill introduced in the Ohio House.

Rep. John Becker, a Clermont County Republican, sponsored a bill decriminalizing the violation. Under House Bill 233, a concealed handgun license holder, with a concealed firearm, discovered in a gun-free zone must leave upon request.

Failure to leave subjects the person to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Currently, violators caught in most government buildings face a fifth-degree felony charge and could spend up to 12 months in prison and pay a $2,500 fine.

Becker said the bill gives peace of mind to law-abiding citizens who happen to forget they have their gun with them. He said he did not know of any concealed handgun licensees who had been charged with a felony for unintentionally carrying a weapon in a gun-free zone.

“People who carry guns inadvertently go into a gun-free zone not even thinking about having the gun on them,” Becker said. “If you’re wearing a watch or a ring, you don’t realize it’s there. It’s the same thing with a gun.”

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