Larry Obhof
Larry Obhof
By J.D. Davidson
The Center Square

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof wants to prevent government officials from shutting down licensed firearms dealers on either a statewide or regional basis.

Obhof, R-Medina, introduced Senate Bill 360, legislation that would stop any public official from issuing an order closing down licensed firearm dealers, an effort he believes infringes on Ohioans’ constitutional rights.

Since March, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has issued orders that either closed or limited businesses throughout the state and issued “stay-at-home” orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In sponsor testimony before the Senate’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee, Obhof emphasized there are no “emergency exceptions” to protecting peoples’ constitutional rights, including the right to self-defense.

“This has been a difficult year for Ohio, and while we continue to focus on slowing COVID-19, we must be mindful that we face these challenges before the backdrop of peoples’ inalienable rights,” Obhof said in a news release. “Ensuring the right of Ohioans to defend themselves and feel secure is a vital part of our work.”

Ohio has not attempted to close licensed firearms dealers, but governors in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania issued orders earlier this year excluding dealers as essential businesses.

The bill would not interfere with the process of zoning and licensing that Ohio firearms dealers currently must adhere to, but it would stop statewide or regional closures.

According to the release, the bill has similar language passed by the Senate in House Bill 272, which prevents statewide or regional closures of churches and other houses of worship. Both Obhof and House Speaker Bob Cupp signed House Bill 272 last week and sent it to Gov. Mike DeWine.