New bill could degrade punishment for concealed weapon carry on college campuses

Lydia Taylor

Ohio lawmakers decided to move forward with two hearings on House Bill 48 this week in wake of The Ohio State University attack. 

Jennifer Thorne, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said if the bill passes, the punishment for concealed weapon carry on college campuses would be degraded from a first degree misdemeanor to a minor misdemeanor, similar to receiving a traffic ticket.

“If this bill passes, it would not only be effective on college campuses, but in our daycare centers, areas around police stations, airport terminals and certain government buildings,” Thorne said. 

The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives by Ohio Representative Ron Maag (R) in 2015, and passed with a 68-29 vote, according to the Ohio Legislature. The bill was then sent to the Senate to be reviewed and either approved or denied.

Thorne said the hearings were set up ahead of time since the bill was first introduced, but the recent attack at OSU made lawmakers have even more interest in the bill than before.

Thorne said there might be an additional hearing next week on the bill, but has not been confirmed.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an 18-year-old OSU student, ran his car into pedestrians on campus, then proceeded to get out of his car with a butcher knife and attacked victims on Monday, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Earlier that day, an alert went out to students on campus about an active shooter, which turned out to be false. Eleven victims were rushed to surrounding hospitals, none with life-threatening injuries. 

Ari Fine, a junior dance major at OSU, said allowing those who carry concealed weapons to get off with a minor charge is only going to allow them to do more harm in the future.

“As a student (at OSU), it is hard to understand the need for people that are not of the law and authority — police, swat, etc. — to possess and carry weapons, especially in an environment that contains thousands of students and young adults,” Fine said. “In addition, the amount of hate and pain that using these weapons and doing violent acts is really draining the people of this university and country — especially in these times of uncertainty. This bill would just add fuel to the fire.”

Lexie Demyan, junior arts management major at OSU, said if the bill passes, there is almost nothing preventing attacks on campuses.

“While I understand that the argument of concealed carry for self-defense is legitimate for some people, it really isn’t all that practical,” Demyan said. “OSU told us the three important steps in order of when to carry them out during the attack — One: run. Two: hide. Three: fight. Obviously, fighting or self-defense is only the last, worst-case scenario option.” 

Hailey Mattes, a junior English major OSU, said even though the attack on OSU’s campus wasn’t an active shooter, the bill opens the gates for “those with a gun and a mind to hurt others.”

“My personal opinion on concealed carry is that if it were to be used to defend oneself and police arrived on scene, there is the possibility that they could mistakenly shoot the person with the concealed carry, resulting in another unnecessary death,” Mattes said.

Mattes said that although the knife attack was contained by a campus police officer, Matte said, “imagine the backlash there would be if a student or instructor would have shot the assailant.”

I feel it’s just opening the door for more violence in an already politically unstable and ever changing environment,” she said.

Lydia Taylor is a senior reporter. Contact her at [email protected]