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Senate May Reduce Penalty for Carrying a Gun on a College Campus From Felony To Misdemeanor

November 29, 2016

Yesterday, Ohio State University students and faculty were attacked on campus. This week the Senate could pass a bill that would reduce the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor for carrying a gun on a college campus. House Bill 48, which passed the Republican-controlled House a year ago, 68-29, also would allow universities to adopt policies permitting people to carry concealed handguns on campus.

The man responsible for the campus attack did not use or even carry a gun. He used his vehicle and started the spree by running random victims over before he pulled out a butcher knife and attacked others. He was shot and killed by a campus police officer. The bill was already set to go before the Senate committee prior to the Monday attack at Ohio State. It is set for two hearings this week, and the full Senate could take up the bill as early as Wednesday afternoon.

If the gun bill passes it will be legal for concealed-carry licensees to carry guns inside day-care centers and certain public areas of airports and police stations. Any bills that are not passed by the end of December are null and void and must be reintroduced in 2017. It is expected that lawmakers will pass a number of bills during the next 14 days. The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association questioned the need for the changes, and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police opposed the bill.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, argued that it is reasonable to lessen the penalty for a concealed carry permit holder who carries on a college campus since it is difficult to navigate where campus boundaries begin and end, using Ohio State as an example. He is also in favor of reducing victim zones in Ohio for those who are not permitted to carry a gun and are “vulnerable to crime.”