COLUMBUS — Monday’s attack at Ohio State University has renewed calls to allow students to carry concealed handguns on public college campuses.
Current law prohibits such weapons on campuses, but the state Senate is expected this week to consider a bill in lame-duck session to allow schools to decide for themselves whether to allow those with concealed-carry permits to carry on campus.
Even on campuses where the bans would remain in place, a violation would be reduced to a minor misdemeanor, eliminating the risk of jail time if the offender proves within 10 days that he has a legal permit to carry.
“Fortunately, an OSU police officer was close by and able to shoot and kill the suspect to stop the attack,” said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “But even so, those being attacked were unable to defend themselves effectively because Ohio law forbids carrying a concealed handgun on school campuses, even if school authorities may be willing to allow it.Shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali refugee and a new logistics management student at Ohio State, plowed a car into fellow students and others gathered on a sidewalk outside a campus hall that had been evacuated because of a suspected gas leak.
Artan then got out of vehicle and swung a butcher knife to injure others. Campus Officer Alan Horujko, 28, who was on site because of the gas leak, swiftly shot and killed Artan.
Video that captured the vehicle driving through campus showed the attacker was alone in the vehicle.Eleven people were injured. All are expected to recover. Classes resumed Tuesday morning, but students, faculty, and members of the community gathered on campus Tuesday night for a healing “Buckeye Strong” event.
Toby Hoover, founder of Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said she knew it would not be long before people began to connect the Ohio State attack with gun rights.
“If five people in that same building were armed, when plain-clothed people drew guns, how would you know who the good guys were?” she asked. “It would become chaos. These people are not police. They don’t know how to make decisions, and they don’t know each other.”
House Bill 48, sponsored by Rep. Ron Maag (R., Lebanon), already passed the House by a vote of 68-29 with Republicans generally favoring it and Democrats opposing it. The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee was already scheduled this week to hold lame-duck session hearings, consider amendments on the bill, and send it to the full Senate.
The bill potentially opens the door for the carrying of concealed handguns into day-care centers, airport terminals, police stations, and government buildings other than courthouses or shelters.
Drivers with permits could legally carry concealed handguns into K-12 school safety zones, but could not carry them into the schools.
“In nearly every case, school killers are stopped only when someone arrives at the scene with a gun,“ Mr. Irvine said. “The faster the response, the fewer people get injured or killed.