In the context as it is currently written, the law forbids
(c) Any compartment, space, box, or other closed container that is added or attached to existing compartments, spaces, boxes, or closed containers integrated or attached to a vehicle.
That box seems to fit in that description as it is attached to the vehicle via a steel cable to the bolted chassis of my seat to prevent its easy removal if the truck is broken into or stolen.
Some people would have you believe that this is the first step in a process to erode our basic rights as Ohioans, or so the comments and posts across the internet would have you believe. In truth, while I think the law as written could be a horrible tool used by certain jurisdictions to enforce their anti-gun agenda by local interpretation of it (I am looking at you Cleveland and the surrounding People Republic of Cuyahoga), I do not believe the bill is "evil" as written.
The bill's sponsor, Senator Hughes has a strong pro-gun record and recently voted to pass Ohio's expanded CCW restaurant and vehicle carry law. He carries an "A" rating by the NRA. It doesn't seem logical that a legislator with this background would introduce such a bill with that intent. What I think we have here is a simple case of poorly worded first draft that can be fixed before being passed.
I am asking anyone in Ohio that may be affected by this law to take a few minutes and contact Senator Hughes with our concerns. His email address and office phone number is located in the link in the first paragraph. My letter as written is as follows, feel free to copy it or to be as brief as you need to be to get your point across...I can be one long winded SOB when the mood hits me...
Dear Senator Hughes,
I am writing you in regards to SB 305, which you recently sponsored and entered into the legislative process. I would first like to commend you for taking a stand on the war on drugs here in Ohio. I feel that by cracking down on the trafficking of drugs in out state that the overall use will decline as well.
However, as I am sure you have realized by now, many of us in the 2nd Amendment arena are worried about certain aspects of the bill as written as they pertain to the legal transportation and storage of firearms in our vehicles under current state law. We fear interpretation of the law as currently written may be used by some entities to charge otherwise law abiding and licensed CHL holders with crimes for nothing more than exercising their rights under current Ohio law. In particular the following section I.2(c) as it pertains to the description of a "hidden compartment" under the proposed law:
Any compartment, space, box, or other closed container that is added or attached to existing compartments, spaces, boxes, or closed containers integrated or attached to a vehicle.
Under my interpretation of this passage (and apparently many others by reactions on the internet) the lock box I currently have stored in the center storage compartment under the seat of my 2008 GMC Sierra would be considered one of these prohibited spaces (picture attached).
I use this box to secure my firearm while I am at work and it is left in my truck in the parking lot. I have the gun disabled by a key safety, locked in this box which is secured to the truck's seat frame via a cable, in the locked storage space in the truck, which itself is logically locked. In this way I try and assure that if my vehicle would be stolen that the weapon could not easily be used for any criminal purpose. The lock box itself is a very large part in this chain of protection.
May I suggest that the above quoted portion of the bill be amended to include some additional wording at the end to the effect as such..
(c) Any compartment, space, box, or other closed container that is added or attached to existing compartments, spaces, boxes, or closed containers integrated or attached to a vehicle in such a manner as to be designed to avoid detection under scrutiny of inspection.
I feel that this would remove any ambiguity from the distinction of compartments used for the transportation of illegal substances and those used for otherwise legal uses, such as transporting licensed firearms.
In addition may I also suggest that an additional portion be added that makes the disclosure of any such compartments to law enforcement officials when interacting in the performance of their duties render those compartments void of enforcement under the statute of this law. This would allow people to carry firearms in containers under their seats for security and not worry about any issues if stopped for a traffic violation. This would coincide with the duty to notify aspect of the existing law as it applies to the transport of firearms in vehicles.
I know that you are a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment as both your high standing with the NRA as reflected in your rating with them and past voting record on 2nd Amendment issues in our state. I am sure that this issue was merely an oversight in its initial drafting and can be easily rectified to protect our rights while still maintaining the original intent of the bill as envisioned into law.
As a matter of note, I am a 30 year resident of Ohio, a retired member of the Ohio Army National Guard and a licensed CHL holder in this state.
Your kind attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.