Dispatch Editorial: ''Legislators shirk pressing issues to push gun bill''
On March 16, the Columbus Dispatch printed a column by Dispatch editorial writer Marry Ann Edwards, complaining that the "fanatic anti-tax Republicans" in the House put our constitutional self-defense rights on equal ground with the school funding mess, created by the formerly liberal Ohio Supreme Court.
Edwards whines that "no groundswell of public support exists for this bill, and most of the state's law-enforcement organizations oppose it."
She further tried to console readers that "this newspaper has weighed the arguments and evidence carefully and continues to find the case for concealed-carry unconvincing." Perhaps Ms. Edwards should read the Dispatch's December 6, 2002 article, entitled "Other States with Carry Laws See Few Problems".
And then there is this interesting bit of wishful thinking from Ms. Edwards: "Although lower courts in two areas of the state recently declared Ohio's longtime ban on carrying concealed weapons unconstitutional, the Ohio Supreme Court appears likely to uphold the statute, just as it has in every previous challenge."
We shall see, Marry. We shall see. Perhaps the result of collective historical opposition from liberals to concealed carry reform will result in Ohio becoming the second unrestricted carry state in the country. At last check, Vermont's low, low crime rates suggest Ohioans could do far worse.
Updated!: The Dispatch has published a pro-CCW response to the editorial. To read the entire piece, click here, or see below.
Legislators shirk pressing issues to push gun bill Sunday, March 16, 2003
Marry Ann Edwards
Two stories that happened to appear in The Dispatch on the same day reveal clearly how misplaced are the priorities of state lawmakers.
On Feb. 26, a front-page article reported about the difficulties several Franklin County school districts have projecting enrollment, accommodating those students and dealing with related budget problems. Farther back in the newspaper, readers could follow the latest developments in certain state lawmakers' perennial attempts to pass a law allowing most Ohioans to carry concealed guns.
For years, the General Assembly has failed to craft a school-funding system that deals with the built-in inequities caused by an overreliance on local property taxes. And now, lawmakers continue to duck their responsibility to put the state on a sound financial footing. They force Gov. Bob Taft to make deep cuts in education funding and other programs to balance the budget temporarily, knowing full well that another enormous gap between income and outgo will appear in a matter of months. Controlled by fanatic anti-tax Republicans, the legislature steadfastly has refused to find a permanent solution to what has become a never-ending series of budget crises.
Meanwhile, school administrators at all levels -- primary, secondary and higher education -- face the monumental task of operating within budgets that can shrink at a moment's notice, as state revenues keep coming up short.
The front-page story pointed out that this county, Franklin, home of state government, now has four of the 10 largest school districts, the most of any of the state's counties, as Hilliard nudged up with the latest increase in enrollment. The other three are Columbus, No. 2; South-Western, No. 6; and Westerville, No. 9. In Hilliard and other burgeoning suburbs, residents and their property taxes are hard-pressed to keep up with the increasing demand for more buildings to hold the classrooms for all those students. Meanwhile, enrollments in Worthington schools recently have fluctuated widely, compounding the problem of projecting budget and space needs.
And how can lawmakers, meeting just down High Street from Ohio State University and only a few blocks from Columbus State Community College, keep ignoring the plight of higher education? Can anyone truly believe that the well-documented, so-called brain drain of college graduates from this state has no relationship to lawmakers' disinterest in helping Ohioans pay for their post-secondary education?
That other story of Feb. 26 and additional articles before and since then show that most of the same lawmakers who give short shrift to their fiscal duties are nevertheless willing to spend an inordinate amount of time catering to the gun lobby. House Bill 12, which the House approved on Wednesday, would give most Ohioans the right to carry guns in their pockets, purses and briefcases just about anywhere they go -- from grocery store to golf course and from restaurant to retail store.
No groundswell of public support exists for this bill, and most of the state's law-enforcement organizations oppose it. Still, determined lawmakers are committed to respond to those who have targeted Ohio as one of the holdout states in their national campaign to increase the number of guns on the streets.
Both sides of the concealed-carry debate can spout statistics and studies to support their viewpoints. This newspaper has weighed the arguments and evidence carefully and continues to find the case for concealed-carry unconvincing.
Although lower courts in two areas of the state recently declared Ohio's longtime ban on carrying concealed weapons unconstitutional, the Ohio Supreme Court appears likely to uphold the statute, just as it has in every previous challenge.
The General Assembly should focus on making laws that benefit as many Ohioans as possible, including those that keep the state's budget balanced. Laws designed to put more guns in the hands of everyone 21 or older don't qualify.
Column missed mark on concealed-gun issue Friday, March 21, 2003
Dispatch Editorial Writer Marry Ann Edwards makes a very compelling argument in her Sunday Forum column about how much time lawmakers in Ohio should devote to certain constitutional issues. She stated very clearly that higher education deserves protection and funding under the law. She also feels comfortable stating that any discussion by representatives about the right of a citizen to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, is a waste of time -- time better spent in helping Ohioans pay for their post-secondary education.
Edwards' point of view dismisses a large group of Ohioans who are determined to be responsible and self-reliant. Those who support concealed carry are not asking the government for money. We understand that budget cuts affect everyone, including law-enforcement agencies. These cuts mean fewer staff and longer response times to emergencies and criminal activity. Edwards feels justified in demanding money from government officials while she insults the "gun lobby'' -- the same gun lobby that she and many other post-secondary-educated folks are always accusing of paying those government officials.
Now, I don't mind if we taxpayers have to support Edwards' right to higher education. I just feel that we ignorant country gun owners should get our money's worth.
Edwards second-guessed legislators while also insulting the gun owners of Ohio and demanding money. By refusing to be at least partially involved or responsible for her own safety, she puts a burden on the already strained budgets of law-enforcement agencies. How about a refund, Edwards?