Akron Beacon-Journal: Some unlikely candidates are ready to carry firearms

Why is it so hard for the media to understand that these are EXACTLY the types of people that we expected to "pack heat"? It is only their bigotry that stereotyped all proponents as white middle-aged men.

Concealed weapons law takes effect soon

March 8, 2004
Akron Beacon-Journal

One is a fifth-grade teacher, another a stroke victim who walks with a cane.

Not exactly the folks you would expect to be packing heat.

But both recently took firearms training so they can become eligible to carry a concealed weapon come April.

That's when Ohio's new ``concealed carry'' law takes effect -- for those who qualify and are trained.

It's not surprising that some Ohioans want to carry guns. But it is surprising to shooting instructors just who some of those people are.

Bob Campbell is one of the unlikely students.

The 64-year-old Mantua man suffered a stroke five years ago. As a result, he walks with a cane and has weaker vision in his left eye.

"I can't run and I can't fight anymore,'' he said. ``If the state will let me carry a gun, it makes it a whole lot better.''

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Campbell said his physical condition has not affected his ability to shoot a gun.

Sue Andrews hasn't told her students about her firearms lessons at A&A Shooting Club in Nelson Township. She and Campbell both trained at the range through Targething, a year-old firearms training company in Portage County.

Andrews, 52, said she won't shy away from the concealed- gun subject if her fifth-graders bring it up.

"I'm sure it's going to bring up a lot of issues, good and bad,'' said the James A. Garfield Intermediate School teacher. "But that, to me, is what education is about.''

Ohio is the 46th state to permit carrying hidden guns.

Those who apply forconcealed-weapon permits must be at least 21 years old. They will have to pay a fee, undergo criminal background checks and take 12 hours of firearms training.

Hidden guns won't be allowed in school zones, on college campuses or in public places that serve alcohol.

"I really don't know if I will carry a concealed weapon,'' said Andrews. "But I feel like the class has empowered me to know what to do in handling a gun responsibly.''

Another Targething student, Craig Wilson, 74, said he definitely intends to pack his gun when the law allows.

"A gun is an equalizer,'' said Wilson of Farmdale in Trumbull County. "You've got too many people out here just shooting up people when they want... like this guy in Columbus who's shooting. In this world anymore, people just don't care.''

Campbell predicts criminals will think harder about pulling a gun on a victim who might be armed.

Targething Vice President Amanda Suffecool said interest in gun-safety classes has picked up, and the buzz seems directly related to the law.

She's noticed a large number of seniors, some with physical limitations.

"I've had three guys in wheelchairs,'' she said. "I've had a multitude of guys with canes.''

The firearms training, held on the weekends at various sites around the area, includes shooting drills and lectures on the law, consequences of shooting someone and gun safety in general. Instructors stress that drawing a gun is a last resort.

"My wish for every one of my students is that they will carry their guns and never have to use them,'' Suffecool said.

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