Clarett arrest shows Columbus is still Mentelly challenged

By Ken Hanson

We here in the Mentel Ward are shocked to report that there has been another assault rifle sighting in safe, secure Columbus.

In case you missed it, Columbus City Council member Mike Mentel sponsored a worthless Assault Weapon (or Mentel) Ban a little over a year ago in the interests of public safety. According to Mr. Mentel, it certainly WAS NOT passed to harass law-abiding gun owners who dutifully registered their weapons of mass destruction. Well, several people registered them, anyway.

Since that time, Buckeye Firearms Association established the Mentel Ward to document the (lack of) success of Mr. Mentel’s law, and have looked on with growing dismay as crimes continue to be committed in Columbus using “assault weapons.” We have not checked into it, but we assume that crimes also continue to be committed with other types of guns, knives, bats, chains and paid golf outings.

It would appear that Mr. Mentel can almost claim another partial success as former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett was picked up this week with a loaded AK-47 pattern rifle in the front seat of his car (along with several loaded handguns and a half-loaded bottle of Grey Goose vodka). Mr. Clarett was also wearing body armor at the time of his arrest, meaning he faces a mandatory 2 year prison specification if he is charged with any offense of violence as a result of his arrest. Given that he resisted arrest strenuously, fled police under conditions that created a risk of harm and had loaded firearms present, this is almost a certainty.

While charges are not yet filed, a quick run-down of possible charges reveals: concealed carry of a loaded handgun under ORC 2923.12, a fourth degree felony; improper transportation of a loaded firearm under ORC 2923.16, a fourth degree felony; obstructing official business that creates a risk of harm under ORC 2921.31, a fifth degree felony; fleeing and eluding under ORC 2921.331, a fourth or third degree felony depending upon how charged; possession of a firearm while under disability under ORC 2923.13, a third degree felony; driving under suspension under ORC 4511.12, a first degree misdemeanor; and violating Columbus’ Mentel Ban, a first degree misdemeanor. As mentioned previously, a 2 year prison specification can be added for wearing body armor, and another 2 year specification can be added for having a loaded gun while committing the felonies.

Any of these charges are possible/likely. What you will not see is prosecution/trial for driving under suspension or violation of the Mentel Ban. Why? The prosecution knows the misdemeanors are a waste of time, and any conviction on the misdemeanor would, by law, be served concurrently with his felony time. We have been telling people this from day one: you will never see meaningful enforcement of the Mentel Ban against criminals, because they will be charged with numerous felonies when they commit a crime with the assault rifle.

The Mentel Ban, by definition and actual operation, can only impact the law-abiding. And that's just plain Mentel.

Ken Hanson is Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair and author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws.

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