Concealed carry goes before Ohio Supreme Court this week
This week, the state’s highest court will hear arguments on one of the most controversial issues facing Ohio’s lawmakers.
Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit over the state’s law banning concealed carry. The Second Amendment Foundation and Cincinnati residents question the constitutionality of state law that makes it illegal to conceal a gun, unless it’s used for self-defense.
Ohio is currently one of six states that does not allow residents to carry hidden weapons.
Bill Gustavson, a Cincinnati attorney, says if justices declare the law unconstitutional, it is likely Ohioans could begin to conceal weapons without having to get a license for that purpose. Gustavson says any law-abiding citizen could carry a concealed firearm.
Two state courts have ruled Ohio’s law unconstitutional.
Concealed carry backers say Ohio’s current law is flawed because it does not provide equal protection for ordinary citizens. Additionally, they claim legislation in the Statehouse is equally flawed.
“Every bill considered has inexplicably retained the very language that deems a citizen guilty until proven innocent," Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry says. “[The legislation] should be amended by the Senate to place the burden of proof where it belongs, on the arresting officer and the prosecution."
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On Monday, Ohioans For Concealed Carry issued a press release about the hearing. The release may be viewed by clicking on the "Read More..." link below, along with links to many of the media stories published in advance of the hearing.
OHIO SELF-DEFENSE GUN BAN UNCONSTITUTIONAL; SUPREME COURT TO HEAR APPEAL TUESDAY
CLEVELAND, Apr. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the State's appeal of case 2002-0585 Tuesday morning, April 15th, 2003 at 11:00am. Ohioans For Concealed Carry is a co-plaintiff in this lawsuit. Five judges in three separate courts have unanimously declared Ohio's concealed carry gun ban unconstitutional.
In early 2002, a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court found Ohio's laws prohibiting carrying a firearm for self-defense, or in a motor vehicle, violate numerous crucial rights protected by the Ohio Constitution.
Ohio's First District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the lower court, stating in their landmark ruling: "There is no doubt that the Ohio Constitution grants citizens the right to possess, and to bear, arms. That is exactly what it says."
Both courts determined that Ohio's concealed carry and unlawful transport in a motor vehicle prohibitions violate due process, equal protection, and a citizen's individual right to possess a firearm, concealed or not, for the purposes of self-defense. The lower court further ruled that the "affirmative defense" language is unconstitutionally vague, subjective, and susceptible to inconsistent and arbitrary enforcement.
According to the First District Court of Appeals, "The core of the dispute here is R.C. 2923.12, which totally prohibits any law-abiding person from carrying a concealed weapon. The practical effect of this statute is that any person carrying a concealed weapon is subject to arrest, incarceration, and indictment before being able to establish the legality of his or her actions. Thus, a legal action subjects an innocent person to prosecution for a felony. It is only later, at the peril of a trial, that innocence may be established. Guns or no guns, we know of no other situation where a citizen is guilty until proven innocent."
A recent case in Seneca County put an exclamation point on the First District Court of Appeals ruling. A Common Pleas court in that Ohio County dismissed criminal charges against a woman who was denied her affirmative defense by the arresting officer, citing the First District's findings. The case has been appealed to the Third District Court of Appeals.
"Due to multiple court rulings, the General Assembly has been on notice of the problems with this statute for over two years. To date, they have not only neglected to rectify this unconstitutional quagmire, but every bill considered has inexplicably retained the very language that deems a citizen guilty until proven innocent," said Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry.
Although not addressed in this case, a defendant must waive their Fifth Amendment right in order to use the affirmative defense. The only way to invoke the affirmative defense is by admitting you violated the statute in the first place.
"The solution the legislature must adopt is clear, " said Garvas, "Legislation such as House Bill 12 should be amended by the Senate to place the burden of proof where it belongs - on the arresting officer and the prosecution."
"Our organization urges the Supreme Court to rule on this issue regardless of any action by the General Assembly prior to the Court's decision. The ideal remedy would affirm the lower courts rulings and prohibit any future enforcement of the unconstitutional law in Ohio."
Representatives from Ohioans For Concealed Carry will be available for comments at the Ohio Supreme Court shortly after oral arguments on Tuesday. With thousands of law enforcement officers and more than 50,000 supporters statewide, OFCC is the state's only grassroots activist organization focused on concealed carry reform. Further information as the case and legislation progress will be available on our website, www.OhioCCW.org.
This story, and the press release, will be covered by many, many news outlets in the coming hours. Links will be provided here:
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