Columbus Dispatch: Taking "no-guns" signs down will reduce odds of attack

I'm now well into my 14th year of writing on gun rights in the Buckeye State, and while some things may never change, I have seen my share of change in the perceptions and attitudes about gun rights in general, and concealed carry in particular.

We've seen our fair share of converts in the law enforcement community - those who once opposed concealed carry admitting that their "Wild West" predictions had not come to pass - but this wasn't unexpected, as the same realization had been seen in other states after passage of concealed carry there.

We've even seen a convert in the legislative community after a state representative from Cleveland was made victim in a 2007 mugging.

What I've found more interesting in recent years has been the awakening that is happening at certain editoral pages. Of course there are still plenty of holdouts in Ohio media - the Toledo Blade and Cleveland Plain Dealer continue to publish anti-gun rights editorials that are often not only wrong in opinion, but wrong in fact. But I've also been witness to some interesting changes on the pages of Ohio's newspapers.

While many members of academia and other gun ban extremists continue to try and convince themselves that support for gun rights is falling (according to Gallup and Pew surveys it's actually rising), there is perhaps there is no more visible sign of the changing attitudes about gun ownership in general, and concealed carry in particular, than on the editorial pages of the Columbus Dispatch.

On Sunday, December 27, the Dispatch published an editorial covering the news that "the men and women trusted by this nation to use heavy weaponry in battle to defend this nation may now defend themselves by carrying firearms at the state’s 72 Guard facilities."

Headlined "Ohio’s National Guard stations are no longer a gun-free zone," the editorial notes that this policy shift follows a security review and update ordered by Gov. John Kasich in the wake of the July terrorist shooting of military personnel at a Navy Reserve center in Tennessee by a Kuwaiti-born gunman. As the Dispatch editors remind their readers, one of the five killed was a Navy petty officer from Ohio; another was a Marine whose father is a central Ohioan.

After the Chattanooga terror attack, news that our military personnel are unarmed here at home came as a shock to many Americans - that fact somehow not having penetrated enough consciences in the wake of a previous terror attack on a military recruiting center in Little Rock, AR in 2009, or two separate attacks on Texas' Ft. Hood (one of them a terror attack by an Islamic extremist), a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, etc. etc.

Photos of the "no-guns" sign posted on the bullet-ridden glass of the Tennessee recruiting facility seemed to have finally brought the point home for many who missed the point before.

And so, the Dispatch editorial documents what I believe is an increasingly collective national realization- these signs aren't keeping ANYone safe:

Ohio Guard members had been unarmed in part, the Associated Press reports, because they work on state property, where guns generally are prohibited.

But any concerns about negligent discharges of firearms paled in comparison to the harm actually perpetrated upon unarmed military personnel. In September 2013, a civilian contractor killed 12 at Washington Navy Yard, and in 2009, a U.S. Army major who had been emailing an al-Qaida recruiter killed 13 in a rampage at Fort Hood.

Now that the word is out that National Guard personnel are carrying firearms, odds are better they won’t need to use them.

Now that the word is out that the intended victims are carrying firearms, "odds are better they won’t need to use them."

That's quite an admission for a newspaper whose editors wrote in 2002 that "increasing the number of weapons carried on Ohio's streets -- and into restaurants and other public places--is a bad idea," and in 2003 that "this newspaper has weighed the arguments and evidence carefully and continues to find the case for concealed-carry unconvincing," and in 2010 that a bill seeking to prohibit employers from denying workers' self-defense rights while traveling to and from work was "wrong-headed" and "out of line," and in 2011 opined "why gun-lobby supporters are so keen to see more weapons in more places is mysterious."

In fact, the Dispatch has a history of opposing concealed carry that goes way back to its very first issue in 1871, when editors wrote "nothing can be more absurd than the carrying of concealed weapons in a civilized community without a special purpose, and that in times of tranquility is simply criminal."

Times and attitudes toward the prudence of carrying a firearm for self-defense are indeed changing. As my friend and Buckeye Firearms Association President Jim Irvine has written, "It always takes time for the feelings of society to have a real change and adopt new safety ideas. It was once normal for kids to ride in cars without seat belts or even car seats. Today such behavior can be considered criminally reckless. We rode bikes with no helmets. CPR was left to the 'professionals.' Thousands of lives are saved annually because our society realized how quickly a life could be lost and how a few simple changes make the difference between life and death."

Indeed, and the Dispatch editors' realization that the odds of an attack against a hardened target are lower is yet another sign that the day seems to be a little closer at hand when carrying a gun for safety will be seen as being as sensible as wearing seat belts.

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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