They'll tote guns to make a point
By J. STEVEN DILLON
The long-running debate on whether Ohio citizens should be able to carry concealed guns will take center stage this weekend in downtown Findlay.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, supporters of pending concealed carry legislation will march down Main Street -- many with firearms openly displayed.
The "Defense Walk" route will be from the Main Street bridge to Lincoln Street and back.
Findlay's Steve Gunhouse, a concealed carry supporter who is organizing the walk, said he expects at least 120 people to participate in the silent protest of the state's gun laws.
"It's about awareness," Gunhouse said. "We're not trying to shock or scare anyone, but to point out in a visible way how stupid the current gun laws are in this state."
He predicted that most of the walkers will be people who believe that all citizens have a constitutional right to carry a weapon for protection.
Chad Baus, a spokesman for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, said walks like the one in Findlay have been held in cities around the state, including Lima, since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled recently that all citizens have an "individual right to self defense."
But the high court also found the state's prohibition against carrying a concealed weapon is constitutional, and that people can exercise their right to defend themselves through "open carry," which is the only legal way for most Ohioans to carry a firearm. Currently, only licensed peace officers can carry a concealed weapon.
"The idea (behind the walks) is to point out the absurdity of the gun laws," Baus said. "On one hand they (the court) say the ban (on carrying concealed weapons) allows us to uphold an orderly society. At the same time, the law allows anyone, without any background checks or training whatsoever, to walk down the street with a weapon in plain view.
"It's not a question of guns or no guns, but open carry or concealed carry. We believe concealed carry is safer than open carry."
Kevin Holliger, of Williamstown, has attended defense walks in Lima and Swanton, and plans to be in Findlay on Sunday. He said those who have walked elsewhere represent a cross section of society.
"It's not just middle-aged gun collectors who support concealed carry. We've had women, older people and entire families walk," he said. "We don't want to turn Ohio into a cowboy state like some people think, we just want to exercise our constitutional right to carry a firearm in order to protect ourselves and our families."
Ohio is one of only five states which doesn't have some form of a concealed carry law. A proposed law is currently in a holding pattern in the state Legislature.
House Bill 12 would make it legal for those who obtain a permit, pass a background check, and complete a safety course, to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio.
Most convicted felons still wouldn't be permitted to legally carry a firearm, and weapons would still be barred from certain places like schools, government buildings and bars. Individual businesses would also have the option of prohibiting them.
Separate versions of the legislation have passed both the Ohio House and Senate and a conference committee was recently appointed to try to work out the differences. The main issue to be debated is whether a person should be able to carry a concealed weapon in a car.
Gov. Bob Taft has said he would veto any concealed carry bill unless it has the endorsement of the state's law enforcement agencies. The Buckeye State Sheriff's Association and the Fraternal Order of Police both support concealed carry legislation, but the State Highway Patrol currently opposes it based on officer safety issues.
The patrol is particularly against allowing concealed weapons in vehicles in which anyone under 18 is a passenger.
Hancock County Sheriff Mike Heldman won't be walking Sunday, but he personally supports a concealed carry law.
"I'm like a lot of people in that I believe every citizen has a constitutionally-protected right to bear arms, provided they follow the law," he said.
Even if a new gun law is passed in the future, Heldman said the "bad guys" will still carry guns illegally and thus provide the greatest threat to officers.
"The ones who go to the bother of obtaining a permit and going through the training aren't going to be the people we have to worry about," he said.
Findlay Police Chief Tom Renninger said he is "not opposed" to changes in the state's weapons law, but noted that any change in the law will mean citizens will see police be more aggressive in traffic stops and other situations when encountering suspects.
He said allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon after they pass a background check and take the required safety course "would take the unknown out of the equation."
He said police officers often confront people who may be carrying a weapon illegally. He said if the law is changed to allow concealed carry, officers would be trained to assume every person they encounter is carrying a weapon.
"The first question won't be 'do you have a weapon?' but 'where is it, and how many do you have?'" he said. "The assumption will be that the person does (have a gun), and they will be treated accordingly until it is determined if they are carrying it legally or illegally."
Gunhouse said those interested in walking Sunday should meet at the Main Street bridge between 1-1:30 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m. there will be a safety briefing to ensure that all weapons are carried properly, and at 2 p.m. the walk will proceed south on Main Street.
"No signs are carried and at no point are any weapons handled except to put them away (at the end of the walk) into vehicles for transportation as the law requires," he said.
So, is that the 9th, or did it happen today? It just says "Sunday", without giving a date.
If its the 9th then I may just have to take some vacation from work and go.
For those of you that have been on these walks, are you just supposed to take a pistol? Would people shit their pants if I showed up with a FAL, AR, or AK? A pistol doesnt send much of a statement, but a FAL is kind of hard to ignore, for sheer size if nothing else.
Sorry, forgot to add the date. It was today.
I wish I'd known about this sooner, I would have posted it earlier this week.
As for weapons, handguns are preferred, as this is about CCW, and it's kinda hard to conceal an AR.
If you think that open carrying a handgun doesn't make much of a statement, you should have seen the expression on the faces of some of the motorists passing by.
Well that sucks. Had I known, I would have been there.
I still think a FAL or an AR would be good to take. After all, if the Stateassholejerks say that you can carry openly, carrying a FAL or AR at sling-arms is really going to get people's attention. They may not see a 1911 strapped to your hip, but how can you miss a rifle on someone's back thats over a meter long? has
So tell me, what kind of reaction did it get, overall? And is there another one planned any time soon? Lima and Findlay have been done....How about Marion or Bellefontaine now?
On second thought, scratch that....Bellefontaine cops are a bunch of chickenshit assholes, they'd probably arrest you just for shits & giggles, so the city can get more money. Then they'll steal your gun and keep the damn thing. I know one guy that is just about in down there that is a damn stormtrooper. He's against concealed carry, says that it will result in more cop deaths. Wont listen to facts, just sticks his head in the sand. A bunch of the deputies at the dept. I work for, including IIRC, a sergeant or two, have offered to give him a good referral to Bellefontaine PD just to get him the hell out of our SO. If you drive in Bellefontaine, dont go 2 mph over the speed limit, fail to use your turn signal, or worse, drive thru a yellow light. That one is like a $90 fine.
So what about Marion? I never go over there, so I dont know if the LEO's there are JBT's or not. Anyone know?
The Findlay PD was very helpful.
All they asked was that the children (there were four or five kids walking) not carry any weapons.
No protestors, just one guy from The Courier newspaper taking photos.
A lot of motorists went by and blew their horns, giving 'thumbs-up' signs.
Excellent! That all sounds pretty positive.
You know its really too bad that we're cursed with Tuh-lee-DUH, Columbusomalia, the Cleve, and Cincinattababwe in this state. If it werent for those liberal havens, we probably would have only the federal laws to contend with. The average Joe (NON-liberal) seems to have his head wired correctly, and most of the LEO's in the smaller cities are pretty straight. The sheriff of Hardin County is in favor of concealed carry, as is almost the entire staff of the SO. As are MANY of the sheriff's throughout the state. Its just the damn Ohio State Highway Traffic Nazi's/wannabe cops that have a problem with it.