DNR supports sidearms in woods for permit holders

By Mike
Moore
Editor

Columbus – One of the biggest changes Ohio sportsmen will see
this fall is that proper license holders will be able to take two
firearms into the woods.

But, they still will be able to hunt with only one of them.

The DNR Division of Wildlife is recommending that those Ohioans
who have concealed carry permits for firearms be permitted to take
those secondary weapons into the woods for deer and turkey season.
The Ohio Wildlife Council will formally vote on the proposal along
with other hunting regulations on April 4.

Up until now, you couldn’t legally take a second firearm into
the woods while hunting deer or turkey, permit or not. Under Ohio
law, however, you could carry that registered weapon on your person
most everywhere else.

‘The firearms community has been very patient with the Division
of Wildlife, allowing us to ease into Ohio’s concealed carry law,’
said Steve Gray, chief of the division.

Ohioans for Concealed Carry, a non-profit gun rights advocacy
group, submitted a petition with 112 signatures supporting the rule
change to DNR Director Sean Logan. Another 61 comments were
registered at Division of Wildlife open houses in March supporting
the right to carry concealed weapons when hunting. The number of
comments registered about concealed carry were second only to deer
regulations, according to Division of Wildlife administrator Dave
Risley.

Ohio hunting laws do allow the use of certain types of handguns
for deer hunting, but those weapons, if they are being used for
that purpose, cannot be concealed. The proposed law doesn’t change
that, said Jim Lehman, the division’s top law enforcement
administrator.

‘This is just for personal protection,’ said Lehman of the
proposed rule change. ‘That’s the intent of the concealed carry law
anyway.’

Larry Moore, a regional leader for the Buckeye Firearms
Association, said the increasing incidence of the woods being used
as dumping grounds for methamphetamine makers has been a concern
for the association.

‘You could be an easy target,’ Moore said of unknowing sportsman
who might stumble upon one of the illegal operations. ‘Our position
was that the handgun is a better deterrent if its with you instead
of in the car.’

Moore also said a fugitive who broke out of jail in Ross County
last summer and was eventually caught thanks to help from a hunter
who spotted him placed new emphasis on the need for a change in the
handgun law.

‘I think that helped drive this new emphasis on looking at
concealed carry,’ Moore said.

If approved, concealed carry license holders would be able to
take their sidearms with them into the woods beginning Sept. 1.

‘People might say ‘why do you need another weapon if you’re
already hunting?’ said Lehman. ‘I guess what we’ve decided is we’re
going to leave that up to the individual. We’re confident there are
no biological or safety issues and that was our primary
concern.’

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