Gov. John Kasich announced Friday he will let legislation become law that allows military service members and veterans to get or renew Ohio concealed handgun permits without paying a fee or going through training.
SB 81, which lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass earlier this year, waives the concealed-carry license fee for active members of the armed forces and retired and honorably discharged veterans.
Right now, people who have been Ohio residents for more than five years must pay $67 for an initial license and $50 to renew a permit. Those who moved to the state more recently must pay $77 initially and $60 to renew.
The new law caps the total amount of fee waivers at $1.5 million.
In addition, those who have military experience with firearms will no longer have to take a required eight-hour course to get a concealed handgun permit, regardless of when a license applicant acquired the experience.
In a statement, Kasich spokesman Jon Keeling said SB 81 “has merit and the governor’s support.” However, Keeling said the governor declined to sign it because “he believes that the next piece of gun-related legislation that he signs needs to be the package of common sense reforms that has been introduced and which will provide valuable tools to reduce gun violence.”
That package, House Bill 585, includes a proposed ban on “bump stocks” that increase a gun’s firing rate, outlawing purchases of firearms for third persons except as gifts, and a “red flag” law that allows courts to remove firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Kasich proposed the reforms following mass shootings in Las Vegas and at a Florida high school.
However, House Speaker Ryan Smith has said HB 585, which has bipartisan support, has caused “a lot of consternation” among House Republicans. Gun-rights advocates have spoken out against the reforms, especially the proposed “red flag” law.
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