You will soon be allowed to carry a concealed gun in bars and other places that serve alcohol in Ohio. Both the Ohio House and Senate passed the bill on Wednesday, and Gov. John Kasich said he will sign it.
The bill would give Ohio one of the broadest concealed carry law in the nation. It would allow guns in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, museums and sports stadiums, according to a report in the Cleveland Plains Dealer.
Supporters say all the bill does is keep Ohio even with the other 42 states that allow guns in restaurants. However, most states do not allow guns in bars and stadiums.
"We're really pleased. Finally. We've been working on this for three years," said Jim Irvine of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "We're only trying to help Ohio catch up to the 1990s. Ohio is really just catching up to almost every other state in the country."
Critics including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, the Ohio Restaurant Association and Democratic lawmakers say the state is just asking for trouble.
"An open air arena is no place for a 9 mm," said state Rep. Bill Patmon. He tried to get in an amendment that would ban guns in stadiums, but it was rejected.
There are restrictions to the impending law. A person carrying a gun cannot drink alcohol, and business owners will be able to circumvent the law by posting signs stating that firearms are not allowed on their premises.
"I think it's fair to say that Ohio has one of the more restrictive statutes as far as the requirements go that are in there," said National Rifle Association lobbyist John Hohenwarter. "The majority of the states, for example, do not address consumption of alcohol by the gun owner."
Bar employees are split on the law.
"I don't want 'em in here," said bartender Laura Lopilato. "You have enough problems in the bars with fighting. Now when someone starts mouthing off, someone's gonna pull out a gun and start shooting. I fear for my own life."
But one bar manager disagrees. "I just think everybody's safer when everybody has guns," Ken George said.
Even without the law, there has been an increase in bar shootings in Ohio this year.
"There are already guns in bars -- the criminals have them," said Irvine, the gun advocate. "This law doesn't change that in any shape or form. The only difference is if they target a licensed carrier then they can shoot back and defend themselves."