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Legislators to keep working on concealed-gun bill

06/20/03

T.C. Brown
Plain Dealer Bureau


Columbus- Members of the House and Senate will try to work out their differences on a bill that would let Ohioans carry concealed guns.

The fast-moving legislation cleared the Senate on Wednesday, but the House - viewing the measure as too restrictive - announced it would reject the Senate-passed bill and ask for a conference committee to search for a compromise. A meeting of the committee was scheduled for noon today, even before its members were known.


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Both chambers are expected to recess for the summer by week's end, but leaders said they hope for an agreement on the gun legislation.

"If we can get a bill that the governor can support, let's do it," Senate President Doug White, a southwest Ohio Republican, said in an interview last night.

The Senate worked hard to get a concealed-carry bill that would eliminate law enforcement's opposition, and for the first time win support from Gov. Bob Taft.

In the past, Taft had said he would sign legislation only if it had support from major law enforcement groups. He backed the Senate bill, however, after state troopers abandoned their opposition in favor of a neutral stand. Taft said he viewed their neutrality as support, and he praised the Senate for adding provisions to require drivers to lock their guns or leave them in plain view.

But those same changes drew criticism from gun supporters in the House.

Rep. Jim Aslanides, a Coshocton Republican and sponsor of the original bill, said the Senate inserted too many restrictions, a position supported by the influential National Rifle Association.

Lt. Rick Fambro, a spokesman for the State Highway Patrol, praised the Senate bill and said the patrol is not likely to soften its position.

John Hohenwarter, state liaison for the NRA, remained hopeful that differences would be ironed out.

"A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, and people need time to digest what has taken place," Hohenwarter said. "This has been in the works for 10 years. A few more months won't hurt."

Plain Dealer Columbus Bureau Chief Sandy Theis contributed to this report.

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