By MARGIE WUEBKER
Area residents are signing up for gun safety classes in order
to be ready when a new law takes effect April 9 allowing law-abiding
citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Meanwhile, sheriffs in Mercer and Auglaize counties and their
counterparts across the state are scrambling with implementation
plans designed to handle the expected influx of applicants seeking
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey and Auglaize County Sheriff
Larry Longsworth began receiving calls Jan. 8 — the day
Ohio Gov. Bob Taft signed House Bill 12, lifting a ban that
had been in place for decades.
“A lot of callers think permits became available with
a stroke of the governor’s pen,” Grey told The Daily
Standard. “The actual bill encompasses 141 pages, and
it takes some time to wade through all the rhetoric.”
Longsworth adopted a wait and see philosophy as legislators
bandied the matter for years.
“I decided to worry about ramifications when the time
finally arrived,” he added with a chuckle. “Now
it’s here on our doorstep.”
He called the legislation well written and indicated he had
no problem with law-abiding citizens obtaining permits to carry
“We should have done this a long time ago,” Grey
said. “I think it will serve as a deterrent to crime because
the bad guys won’t know who’s carrying and who’s
“As for the effect on deputies, police officers and troopers,
they have been trained from the very beginning to consider each
situation as potentially dangerous. They may be even more cautious
now and that’s not all bad.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is in the process of
drafting the application form as well as the information pamphlet
that is required reading for anyone wanting a permit. Actual
implementation rests with the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association
since county sheriffs are the only law enforcement officials
authorized to issue permits.
Grey and Longsworth admit the application process, which involves
mandatory fingerprinting and background checks, will increase
their workload initially. They envision setting up designated
hours, such as evenings and Saturdays, to handle the extra work.
“We’re going to be very busy at first,” Longsworth
predicted. “I expect several hundred applicants early
on before the initial interest wanes.”
Grey anticipates Mercer County numbers to fall just shy of 200,
especially after people learn more about the provisions of the
“Some people won’t want to jump through all the
hoops,” he said. “And then there is the matter of
cost — application and training fees.”
Longsworth agrees, adding prospective applicants may be surprised
at all the restrictions. Weapons may not be carried in school
zones, correctional institutions, courthouses, colleges, daycare
facilities, churches or places of worship, establishments with
liquor permits and airports to name a few. Businesses, including
restaurants and stores, have the right to establish their own
policies and that could involve gun owners being asked to check
their weapons at the door.
“There are things that must be done if a permit holder
is pulled over for a traffic stop,” he said. “And
then there is the matter of liability. I really believe a lot
of folks will decide not to apply and that is their prerogative.”
Applicants must register in their home county or in an adjacent
county showing a driver’s license or state ID card in
the process. There is a 30-day residency requirement and a minimum
age requirement of 21. The background check is intended to weed
out individuals who have been convicted of felony crimes, drug
offenses or misdemeanors involving violence. Additionally, the
applicant cannot have pending cases involving such offenses
or be under civil protection orders. A 12-hour firearms course,
including a minimum of two hours on a firing range, is mandatory
except for honorably discharged military personnel with sharpshooter
designation and retired police officers.
The fee cannot exceed $45 and Grey may offer on site digital
photography for a couple dollars to ensure applicants have up-to-date
Authorities will have 45 days to complete a background check
and then 20 days in which to issue a four-year permit.
“If people provide necessary documentation and pass the
records check, we have to issue a permit,” Grey added.
“A sheriff does not have the right to reject an applicant
who has jumped through all the hoops and passed with flying
colors. This is one part of the legislation that concerns me.”
Lawmakers also added a provision for emergency situations. An
applicant must show evidence of being in imminent danger, have
no felony convictions or pending cases and submit to electronic
fingerprinting. The 90-day permit cannot be renewed for a period
of four years.
Rather than calling their offices for particulars about the
new legislation and the application process, the sheriffs recommend
checking the Web site hosted by Ohioans for Concealed Carry
Inc. It can be accessed at www.OhioCCW.org.
Gary Kremer, owner of Kremer’s Guns in Celina, already
has 50 to 60 students enrolled in the mandatory safety course
and there is a waiting list for the next one.
“We’ll be offering as many classes as possible,”
Kremer said. “However, finding certified instructors is
not easy. They are in short supply as the April date approaches.”
Students, ranging from young adults to senior citizens, consider
the $100 fee an investment in greater security. A number of
husbands and wives attend classes together.
“The course involves a lot more than how to shoot,”
Kremer said. “It deals with safety first and foremost.”
A gun shop proprietor for 20 years, he has seen customers —
primarily women — purchase handguns and ammunition, only
to hide them in the nightstand or under the bed. He questions
the degree of safety the practice affords.
“Unless you know how to use a gun, it really won’t
protect you,” Kremer said. “The bad guys will just
take it away from you.”
He is glad lawmakers finally bit the bullet and lifted the ban,
following the lead of 47 other states across the nation. He
maintains the ultimate result will be greater security on the
“Some people fear reruns of the Shootout at the OK Corral,”
Kremer added. “It didn’t happen in other states
and it isn’t going to happen here.”