Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed a bill into law scrapping required permits for carriers of concealed weapons, a move police unions said could put officers in peril and make the state "less safe."
Senate Bill 215, also known as "Constitutional Carry" by supporters, will make a concealed weapons permit optional for those 21 and older who are legally allowed to carry while also eliminating the requirement that people "promptly" notify police officers they are carrying concealed weapons.
The new law, which DeWine signed Monday, takes effect in about three months.
Opponents of the law have said it will make Ohio more dangerous.
They point to how the measure also discards the mandate requiring concealed carry permit holders to attend eight hours of training, which includes shooting practice.
"People get to carry a gun without any background check, without any training. It definitely makes Ohio less safe," said Michael Weinman, the director of government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.
The law requires that in encounters with police, people confirm that they are carrying weapons only when they are asked by officers. Before, concealed weapon carriers were required to volunteer the information. Police will have to ask, and lying about a concealed weapon will be a misdemeanor, according to the law.
Tom Austin, the executive director of the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said placing the onus on police rather than on concealed weapon carriers will make traffic stops longer and could place officers in peril.
"We're not here to offer an opinion on the Second Amendment or the right to carry a concealed weapon. We just think it's a reasonable expectation to expect people, especially in this climate, to be able to make the simplest advisement to law enforcement that they're carrying a concealed weapon," Austin said.
He said, simply put, that DeWine was "wrong" to sign the bill.
A spokesperson for DeWine declined to comment Tuesday.
The bill was introduced by Republican state Sen. Terry Johnson of Scioto County, who said it eliminates a discrepancy in Ohio law that currently allows people to openly carry guns. Ohio's GOP-controlled Legislature passed the bill this month.
Gun owners can still apply for concealed weapons permits under the legislation, allowing those who obtain them to carry concealed weapons in states with reciprocity agreements recognizing such permits.
The Buckeye Firearms Association said 21 other states allow people to carry concealed weapons without licenses. Gun control groups such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America opposed the bill.
The Ohio Democratic Party accused DeWine of caving in to "special interest groups and extremists."
Last year, Ohio sheriffs issued 202,920 new or renewed conceal carry licenses, a 20 percent increase over 2020, the state attorney general's office said. Sheriffs denied licenses to 2,668 applicants who didn't meet state-mandated requirements and revoked 420 licenses for such issues as felony convictions and mental incompetence.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Republicans and the firearms lobby say the issue is less about meeting a training minimum and more about not constraining the right to bear arms.
Johnson said, "This particular bill goes a large distance in getting the Second Amendment restored," the newspaper reported.