COLUMBUS -- A law°maker panel is poised to move leg°is°la°tion that would al°low per°mit°ted in°di°vid°u°als to carry con°cealed firearms in day care cen°ters, on uni°ver°sity cam°puses and at a range of other lo°ca°tions.
The cham°ber's Govern°ment Over°sight and Re°form had its sec°ond hear°ing Nov. 29 on HB 48.
Pro°po°nents of the law changes urged pas°sage a day af°ter an in°ci°dent at Ohio State Univer°sity left the per°pe°tra°tor dead and nearly a dozen peo°ple in°jured.
"I want knife-wield°ing ma°ni°acs to be afraid for their lives," Jonathan Bes°hears, a law stu°dent at OSU and a con°cealed carry per°mit holder, told sen°a°tors Nov. 29. "I want them to stop and think about the con°se°quences of at°tack°ing in°no°cent peo°ple. Let us stop liv°ing in fear and put an end to this once and for all."
OSU of°fi°cials con°firmed Nov. 28 that stu°dent Ab°dul Razak Ali Ar°tan drove his ve°hi°cle onto a side°walk, strik°ing stu°dents and oth°ers who had gath°ered out°side a build°ing in re°sponse to a fire alarm. He then ex°ited the car with a large knife and stabbed peo°ple in the vicin°ity be°fore a uni°ver°sity po°lice of°fi°cer, who was al°ready at the scene re°spond°ing to a gas leak, shot and killed him.
The en°tire in°ci°dent un°folded over sev°eral min°utes, and cam°pus build°ings and roads were shut down for an hour and a half as law en°force°ment se°cured the scene. Eleven peo°ple were in°jured in the at°tack and sent to mul°ti°ple Colum°bus-area hos°pi°tals for treat°ment.
An°drew Thomas, the chief med°i°cal of°fi°cer at OSU's Wexner Med°i°cal Cen°ter, said three of the pa°tients re°mained hos°pi°tal°ized Nov. 29 but "are all do°ing well."
"Every°one still con°tin°ues to be heal°ing, ob°vi°ously work°ing through the trauma of yes°ter°day's events," he said. "But at this point, we're just thank°ful that there ap°pear to be no life-threat°en°ing in°juries, and we ex°pect all the in°di°vid°u°als to make a full re°cov°ery."
No mo°tive has been of°fered by of°fi°cials in°ves°ti°gat°ing the in°ci°dent, though the Wash°ing°ton Post and other news out°lets re°ported Nov. 29 that the Is°lamic State had claimed re°spon°si°bil°ity for the at°tack, call°ing Ar°tan a "'sol°dier' of the mil°i°tant group.'"
It's also been widely re°ported that Ar°tan was a So°mali refugee who was at°tend°ing the uni°ver°sity as a le°gal per°ma°nent res°i°dent. And The Lan°tern, OSU's stu°dent news°pa°per, ear°lier this year in°ter°viewed Ar°tan, who ac°knowl°edged his Mus°lim faith and voiced con°cern about be°ing seen pray°ing on cam°pus.
Wil°liam Clark, a pro°fes°sor in ma°te°ri°als sci°ence en°gi°neer°ing, was struck by Ar°tan's car at the scene and was hos°pi°tal°ized overnight. He said dur°ing a press brief°ing Nov. 29 that he did not know the per°pe°tra°tor.
"At this stage, un°til we re°ally know all the facts, I pre°fer to hold judg°ment," he said of Ar°tan. " Hav°ing been a fac°ulty mem°ber for 35 years, I'm only too aware of the things that drive stu°dents some°times to do things that they wouldn't or°di°nar°ily do. Be°fore I pass judg°ment on this young man, I would like to see ex°actly what the cir°cum°stances are and ex°actly why he took the course of ac°tion that he chose to."
He added, "I'm sore, but I'm go°ing home this af°ter°noon, and he's dead My sense is, out of re°spect just for the liv°ing and the dead, we should wait un°til we know ex°actly what the truth is."
Among other pro°vi°sions, HB 48 would lift re°stric°tions on car°ry°ing con°cealed weapons in day care cen°ters or homes, on pri°vate air°crafts or in other gov°ern°ment build°ings. The list would in°clude por°tions of air°ports ter°mi°nals out°side of screen°ing check°points or re°stricted ar°eas.
The pro°posed law changes would re°duce to a mi°nor mis°de°meanor the unau°tho°rized car°ry°ing of con°cealed hand°guns by per°mit°ted in°di°vid°u°als on col°lege cam°puses, as long as those charged can pro°duce a valid con°cealed carry li°cense within 10 days of their ar°rest.
The bill also would al°low con°cealed carry at pub°lic uni°ver°si°ties, if those cam°puses' gov°ern°ing bod°ies au°tho°rize it.
Pri°vate em°ploy°ers, col°leges and uni°ver°si°ties and other lo°ca°tions could still ban con°cealed firearms from their premises.
The bill passed the Ohio House last year and had its sec°ond hear°ing in the Ohio Se°nate Nov. 29, al°low°ing pro°po°nent tes°ti°mony.
Bes°hears spoke in fa°vor of HB 48, say°ing that li°censed con°cealed-carry per°mit hold°ers should be al°lowed to have their firearms on uni°ver°sity cam°puses and other lo°ca°tions.
"I can legally carry a firearm in my home, at the gro°cery store, when I take a walk through my neigh°bor°hood, even at a place of wor°ship [that opts in]," he said. " Yet when I am at Ohio State, I can°not keep my°self safe. If some°one at°tacks me with a butcher knife or an AK47, I'm sup°posed to run away, throw things at them, or, I don't know, maybe hide un°der a desk and pray. Think about the ter°ror you would ex°pe°ri°ence if that was you."
Brian Ste°wart, an emer°gency re°spon°der from Dover, said fire°fight°ers, paramedics and oth°ers who re°spond to in°ci°dent scenes along°side law en°force°ment should be al°lowed to carry their con°cealed firearms.
"I would very much like to have a per°sonal firearm for my safety if I'm go°ing to wear body ar°mor and re°spond to un°safe ar°eas," he said. "State law can al°low me to carry a firearm with my con°cealed carry li°cense. How°ever, there are so many for°bid°den zones in°clud°ing gov°ern°ment build°ings that I wouldn't be able to carry [in], so at this time it's just not prac°ti°cal to carry, which is a shame be°cause there is still so much vi°o°lence in the world."
Chris Davis, who owns a busi°ness in Colum°bus and has a daugh°ter who at°tends OSU, said law-abid°ing cit°i°zens shouldn't have to dis°arm them°selves when°ever they need to cross cam°pus -- as was the case Nov. 28, when he picked up his daugh°ter.
"Gun-free zones make a tar°get of our vul°ner°a°ble chil°dren," he said. "No crim°i°nal or ter°ror°ist has been de°terred by such an ar°bi°trary zone, and un°for°tu°nately we are not al°ways so for°tu°nate to have an of°fi°cer al°ready on the scene to neu°tral°ize the threat."
Marc Ko°vac is the Dix Cap°i°tal Bureau Chief. Email him at mko°vac@dix°com.com or on Twit°ter at OhioCap°i°talBlog.