Associated Press misrepresents Akron police chief, claiming he blames concealed carry laws for officer's death

Northeast Ohio media are reporting that 32 year-old off-duty police officer Justin Winebrenner was shot and killed while trying to diffuse an unruly customer at a bar early Sunday, November 16, and the Associated Press appears to be hoping that they can convince readers that concealed carry laws are to blame.

According to WJW (Fox Cleveland), authorities arrested Kenan Ivery, 35, in the shooting — a man with a long criminal history that includes drug dealing and, the chief said, two charges of having a weapon under a disability (meaning possessing a weapon when he was not legally allowed to do so).

The news station notes that, more than a year ago, Akron Police Chief Jim Nice had called for changes to the state’s laws for punishing felons who illegally possess guns.

“It makes me so mad, I can’t see straight,” Nice said during in an interview in February of 2013.

...At Sunday’s news conference, the chief said felons who are picked up for illegally carrying a gun do not go to jail in Summit County.

“It is not considered a violent crime,” he said.

Last year, the I-Team reported that statistics show 57 percent of violent crimes in Ohio are committed by one percent of criminals.

Nice wants a law similar to the federal “felon in possession” law, which has strict penalties for illegally carrying a firearm.

“In the federal system, people are doing seven years for ‘felon in possession’, and in the state system, seven hours,” he said.

A similar bill has been proposed in the State Legislature, but it has not passed.

Nice said if we can’t keep the small number of people who commit most of the violent crimes off the street, “we will never be safe.”

Clearly, Chief Nice is concerned with getting violent felons with guns off the streets - just as law-abiding citizens and concealed handgun license-holders are. But to hear the Associated Press tell it, Chief Nice is worried about licensees:

The police chief expressed disappointment with the state's conceal carry laws.

"The typical person in Summit County that is arrested for an illegal firearm does not do a day in jail," he said. "And I've been mad about this. I've spoken about this. I've irritated the judges about this. It's not just a judge's fault. It's a legislator's fault in Ohio. It's not considered a violent crime in the state of Ohio."

No, Associated Press, the police chief was not expressing "disappointment with the state's conceal carry laws." In fact, in November 2013 Chief Nice made headlines for pointing out that focusing on gun ownership will never curb gun violence, in an interview with Cleveland's fox affiliate, WJW:

Simply put, Akron Police Chief Jim Nice believes almost every proposal to curb gun violence that he has heard won't work.


Because Chief Nice, who used to head undercover operations for the FBI, says the proposals don’t address the main problems that lead to gun deaths.

"It makes me so mad I can't see straight," Chief Nice tells the I-Team.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut where 20 children and six adults were killed, many proposals focused on banning assault weapons and increasing security at schools.

The article quotes Chief Nice as saying he doesn't doesn't think they will help much to curb crime in his city, since most people aren't shot in schools and most people aren't shot with expensive assault rifles.

The legislative focus, Chief Nice believes, should not be on gun ownership, but rather on illegal gun possession and use.

Also in late 2013, Nice was quoted by as saying that background checks won't work to stop criminals, and "gun buybacks are a farce."

And yet, to hear the Associated Press tell it, Chief Nice thinks the state's conceal carry laws are the problem.

No, Chief Nice believes as we do, that violent criminals are the problem. And he wants just what we do - to get them off the streets.

Last year, Attorney General Mike DeWine proposed the Violent Career Criminal Act, which would change current gun specification sentencing laws and increase some penalties for offenders with two or more violent felony convictions.

The Violent Career Criminal Act calls for a mandatory 11-year prison sentence for those convicted of illegally possessing a gun, if they have previously been convicted of two or more violent felonies. Today, a felon convicted of illegally possessing a firearm faces only one to five years imprisonment.

The act would also double gun specification penalties if the offender has previously been convicted of a crime involving a firearm. Current gun specification sentences range from one to seven years in prison, depending on the underlying gun crime.

But the anti-crime bill, like so many pro-gun bills, hasn't seen action in the Ohio Senate, and will die on December 31, 2014 if not acted upon.

If you want to see the General Assembly act to rid the streets of the most violent among us, as well as to improve gun rights in ways that are already enjoyed by the majority of other states, call your Representative and Senator NOW and tell them you expect this legislation to move in Ohio BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR. They asked for your vote on Tuesday, November 4. Tell them we want their votes too.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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