In the wake of the violent attack on the Ohio State University campus, state lawmakers are considering whether to relax a law that bans concealed weapon permit holders from bringing guns on college campuses.
Monday’s attack provided the backdrop for an Ohio Senate committee hearing Tuesday on HB 48, a proposal from Rep. Ron Maag, R- Lebanon. The bill would allow people with a permit to carry a concealed weapon to bring their guns onto campus as long as the school doesn’t prohibit it. Under current law it is illegal for permit holders to have weapons on campus.
OSU student Shannon Davis of Centerburg, Ohio, was among the supporters of the proposal to testify before the committee. She said her first thought during Monday’s attack was how defenseless she was because her only protection was pepper spray.
“I have never been more scared for my own life and the lives of my friends,” she said.
Her father, Christopher Davis, who runs a business in Columbus, rushed to the OSU campus to protect his daughter. He is a CCW permit holder and told the committee that he should not have to store and lock his firearm in his vehicle in order to pick up his daughter during an emergency.
“Gun-free zones make a target of our vulnerable children,” he said. “No criminal or terrorist has been deterred by such an arbitrary zone and unfortunately we are not always so fortunate to have an officer already on the scene, as was the case yesterday, in order to neutralize the threat.”
The proposal from Maag would leave the final decision up to each school’s board of trustees as to whether guns on campus would be allowed. Even with that, opponents said it would lead to more problems, not make people safer.
At Tuesday’s hearing about a dozen women who oppose the bill wore matching red T-shirts with the name of their group,”Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.”
Spokesperson Barbara Doll said they are not against guns. In fact, Doll said, some of their members are also members of the National Rifle Association.
But Doll said the group supports what she called common sense protections for gun safety. She said she is troubled by the possibility that thousands of people on college campuses could be carrying weapons.
“Our position is to keep to weapons out of sensitive areas. And college campuses fit into that category,” Doll said.
Although conceal carry permit holders must undergo training on how to handle their weapon, Doll said she is skeptical how some might respond during an emergency.
“I’m not sure how that would work to have people taking their weapons out and trying to take down some one,” she said.
Opponents will have the chance to testify on the bill Wednesday. Doll and others expect committee action and a full Senate vote within the next few days in the legislature’s “lame duck” session.