By Nadia Ramlagan

Ohio News Connection

COLUMBUS - A bill being considered by Ohio lawmakers would allow people 21 and older to carry concealed weapons without needing a permit.

House Bill 178 is sponsored by Republicans Ron Hood and Tom Brinkman, along with more than 20 other legislators.

Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, is convinced that the bill would put communities at even greater risk.

"And that is a pro-gun piece of legislation," she points out. "It's been introduced to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a background check, without a permit, without any kind of training. It would allow anybody that's not prohibited by law in some other way to go ahead and carry a gun."

The Ohio House will likely vote on the bill before year's end.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Ohio has the 22nd-highest gun death rate among the states, and on the center's annual scorecard of state gun safety laws, the organization gives the state a D grade.

More than 1,400 Ohio residents lose their lives to gun violence each year.

Compared to other states, Ohio has relatively few gun control laws. There are no waiting periods to purchase guns, dealers aren't required to obtain state licenses and there is no limit on the number of guns that can be purchased at one time.

There's also no ban on assault weapons or large capacity magazines.

Hoover says state lawmakers have worked to erode any gun law that might be considered restrictive.

"Over these years, we've just watched the gun lobby completely influence the Ohio Statehouse," she states. "And so, we had seen our gun laws that we had, which were very few, weaken and weaken.

"Some groups, such as Buckeye Firearms Association, support the measure.

“Constitutional carry is an exciting possibility for gun owners in Ohio,” according to the group’s website. “If we have the ‘right’ to ‘keep’ (own) and bear (carry) arms, then why do we need permission?”

Gov. Mike DeWine, who has previously been endorsed by the NRA, is now proposing to tighten access to guns by requiring background checks on firearm purchases, among other reforms he recently announced after a gunman killed nine people and injured more than 20 others in Dayton earlier this month.