Bless today the itsy-bitsy hearts of Ohio Senate members so dedicated to making this state a safer place for us all.
And bless, too, the dozens of members of the Ohio House who, if given a chance, will join their 25 caring colleagues in the Senate in allowing gun-toting patrons to take their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
After all, we all know restaurants like Pizza Hut and Applebee's can be dangerous places. So the legislature wants to make sure that, when gunfire erupts, concealed-carry permit holders will be there to restore order.
And in the rare event a mother and her children get caught in the crossfire? Well, sometimes defense of the Second Amendment can be a bit messy.
Such a debt of gratitude do we owe these conscientious members of the Ohio General Assembly that we, as citizens, should return the favor. And the best way to do that would be a campaign urging legislators to amend Section 2923.126 of the Ohio Revised Code.
A bit of legislative tinkering would allow licensed Ohioans to carry concealed weapons into the Statehouse –– especially all rooms where House and Senate members conduct the public's business.
Surely, every legislator who favors guns in places that serve booze would jump at the chance to vote in a chamber where the overhead galleries are filled with pistol-packing spectators.
When it passed the guns-in-bars bill, the Senate was also quite clever in the way it tossed a couple bones to the anti-gun nuts. Whereas the zealots wanted an "opt in" provision requiring bar and restaurant owners to affirmatively welcome gun owners, senators gave the establishments the right to opt out –– presumably by placing one of those tiny stickers on the door that few will see.
Senators also prohibited permit holders who bring weapons into the bars and restaurants from drinking alcohol (wink, wink). After all, bars in Ohio are loaded with customers who sit for hours on end tossing down glasses of Diet Coke.
But senators weren't only clever. They were courageous.
Never does a day pass without Gov. John Kasich promising to make Ohio a business-friendly state. And because 25 senators know what's best for business, they ignored the heated objections to this law from every single business that would be affected by the new law –– not to mention law-enforcement groups.
Richard Mason, lobbyist for the 5,000-member Ohio Restaurant Association, foolishly suggested that "alcohol and guns are not a good mix." And Jacob Evans, general counsel for the 1,000-member Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, was way out of line to claim, "This just doesn't make any sense. There are some places in urban areas where this is just a recipe for disaster."
As proof of how out of touch the restaurant and bar owners are on this issue, they actually made book with the lunatic fringe. Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence was nothing short of irrational, accusing some legislators of caring nothing about facts, but concerned only with "doing whatever the gun lobby tells them to do."
Because senators ignored crackpots like Hoover, this worthy legislation now moves to the Ohio House, where members will take it up in the next few weeks. Actually, it almost cleared the House last year, but was blocked by that creepy Armond Budish, the former speaker who foolishly thinks this is a bad idea.
Our dear friend, former Gov. Ted Strickland, who never met a gun he didn't love, was poised to sign the bill into law last December. Had Budish not defied his governor, gun-toting patrons would already be congregating in family restaurants all over Ohio.
Now, problems loom again in the House, where Speaker Bill Batchelder recently warned he may lack the votes to pass the gun bill. Batchelder said some of his members are being influenced by the massive opposition from restaurants.
Enter our main man –– the tough-talking Ken Hanson from the Buckeye Firearms Association, who warned that House members who waver will be politically punished. And if Batchelder doesn't force a vote, Hanson promised that the gun crowd will go after the entire Republican caucus.
That's our Ken, master of the understatement!
So, while we await a vote in the House, I will ask my state representative, Lynn Slaby, to offer an amendment to the Senate-passed bill that would allow permit holders to bring concealed weapons into all parts of the Statehouse. Please do the same with your representative.
After all they've done for us, that's the least we can do to them.