Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature is set to hear a bill today (HB 203) that will seriously loosen Ohio’s already lax concealed carry requirements while adding new ‘stand your ground’-type exceptions to existing self defense laws.

For starters, the bill will eliminate the requirement that CCW training be conducted for a minimum of 12 hours.   Which is completely ridiculous.   I took the CCW course from a very good instructor and still I thought it was much too short and much too easy.   A couple of hours of range time, and being able to hit a target at whatever random distance the instructor feels like using, does not adequately prepare someone to carry a loaded weapon around a crowded city, much less fire that weapon safely if needed.

We found out this week that the number of concealed carry permits in Ohio has hit a record number, and the year isn’t even over yet.    Since January, 82,186 new CCW licenses were issued, blowing away last year’s record of  64,650.   If this law passes, expect that number to grow even faster as people with little or no training are issued licenses to walk around with loaded weapons tucked into the crotch of their jeans.

The bill would also automatically allow people with CCW licenses in other states to carry a weapon in Ohio if their state recognizes Ohio CCW licenses.   This removes the requirement to have a formal reciprocity agreement with other states.   Ohio already has reciprocity agreements with 23 other states.

Reciprocity agreements are actually a good thing.  They require that the Ohio Attorney General review CCW requirements in the other state to make sure they are similar to Ohio’s.   If this law passes, people from any state that recognizes Ohio’s CCW permits will be able to carry in Ohio, even if that state has much looser requirements to obtain a license.   Though, to be fair, if the other parts of this bill pass as-is, there won’t be too many states left with looser requirements.

The bill also clarifies that you can’t be charged with disorderly conduct or inducing panic if you are exercising a “constitutional right.”   This appears to be aimed at preventing people who are openly carrying guns at the local mall from being charged with a crime if they scare the crap out all the Christmas shoppers and cause a stampede.

Lastly, the bill would expand Ohio’s current self defense exception (often called the “castle doctrine”) which allows someone in their home or business to use deadly force without the duty to retreat.  Under the bill, anyone would be able to use deadly force pretty much anywhere in the state, effectively implementing a Florida-like “stand your ground” law right here in Ohio.

Speaking of Florida…. George Zimmerman is in jail again.   This time for threatening his girlfriend with a shotgun.   Zimmerman has had multiple gun-related run-ins with the law since he shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

In July, Zimmerman was pulled over for speeding in Texas with a weapon in his car.  In September, police were called to his house after his wife called 911 claiming Zimmerman had threatened her and her father with a gun.

Zimmerman was acquitted in the Martin killing because of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows the use of deadly force without a duty to retreat.

The Ohio Congressional Black Caucus has an online petition asking the Governor and GOP legislators to kill the bill.