When it comes to carrying guns, how important is training?

Very important, according to three Geauga County officials who recently spoke out against legislation pending in the Ohio House that would remove a number of requirements in Ohio’s current concealed carry gun law.

House Bill 178 would allow individuals 21 and older to carry concealed weapons without a permit as long as they are not legally forbidden to own a gun.

The bill was introduced in March by state Reps. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, and Tom Brickman, R-Mt. Lookout. Under HB 178, people would no longer have to obtain a $67 permit from a county sheriff or successfully complete an eight-hour safety training class that includes at least two hours of live-fire training. HB 178 also would remove the requirement for armed individuals to inform a law enforcement officer that they are carrying a weapon and would expand the list of allowable concealed weapons to include shotguns and rifles in addition to the now-permitted handguns.

We see these changes as dangerous.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, Chardon Police Chief Scott Niehus and Geauga County Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri all spoke out against the bill recently, citing a number of reasons, including the elimination of required training.

All three have stated that they understand the importance of protecting gun rights. Yet all three talked about the need for training.

Mr. Spidalieri, who owns Great Lakes Outdoor Supply stores, provides training under the current concealed carry regulations. The county commissioner said that he has seen first-hand how some applicants, even after training, showed they were not ready to carry a firearm in public.

This shows that results of the now-required sessions can indicate that some individuals need additional training.

Sheriff Hildenbrand said training doesn’t take all that long and serves to protect not only others, but also persons carrying the gun. Training focuses on safety and on state laws related to the legalities of pulling a gun, according to the sheriff.

Chief Niehus pointed out that the training session can show that bad things have a chance of happening to well-intentioned people.

How would one know when others are carrying a gun?

Chief Niehus noted that the proposed law would increase risks for officers approaching a stopped vehicle or dealing with suspects, not knowing if they had a concealed weapon.

That concern is shared by several law enforcement groups. On record in opposition of HB 176 are the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the Ohio Police Chiefs Association, the Fraternal order of Police, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association.

One group supporting the bill is the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Removing training and reporting requirements most certainly could cost lives.

A recent study by a Stanford University law professor found that states that adopted a right-to-carry law saw a 13 percent increase in violent crime in the 10 years after enacting the law.

Any increase in gun-related violence is too much.

Our state lawmakers need to back off of this bill and leave the training, types of weapons and reporting requirements in place. The last thing we want to see is a police officer, a sheriff’s deputy or an innocent person injured or killed by gunfire.

Residents need to contact their state representatives and emphasize the need to keep training and other prudent requirements in place.

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