Governor-elect Kasich appoints anti-gun Highway Patrol bureaucrat to superintendent position

by Chad D. Baus

The Columbus Dispatch reported recently that Governor-elect John Kasich has appointed Maj. John Born to serve as the next superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).

The name John Born is quite familiar to pro-gun rights activists who were in the Buckeye State for the fight to pass a shall-issue concealed carry law, and his appointment to the top post in the bureaucracy of the OSHP is likely to provoke fears of dark days ahead for pro-gun legislation.

John Born also served in Bob Taft's OSHP hierarchy, and was the OSHP's spokesperson during their days of opposition to CCW reform.

Taft hid behind the OSHP, claiming to be a supporter of concealed carry reform, but saying he'd only support a bill that had OSHP backing.

What kind of a bill was the OSHP comfortable with at the time? Consider that then-Capt. John Born was the mouthpiece of an effort to make CCW in a car completely illegal. Efforts by the OSHP to insert a poison pill amendment containing that language are what led to the defeat of a concealed carry bill (HB274) in 2002.

Born and the OSHP continued their insistence that concealed carry be illegal in a motor vehicle when concealed carry legislation was reintroduced in 2003. On February 13, 2003, Born was quoted as saying "We do not want a loaded firearm readily accessible to the driver of a car. If there's a dangerous situation and you're in your car, you can drive off."

Pro-CCW activists actually started keeping a victim count of all the people who tried to follow his ridiculous advice - and coined a term for what often happened to people who tried to just "drive off" when attacked. We called it "getting Borned."

During the lengthy fight against Born, the OSHP and Taft to get passage of the bill that finally brought concealed carry to the Buckeye State (HB12), at least two men died (see here and here) trying to follow Born's advice.

(Incidently, another woman died just this past weekend when her husband tried to follow Born's advice.)

When Born's boss at the time claimed that "there is no statistical or anecdotal evidence which supports that concealment and transportation of a weapon in a motor vehicle is effective or safe as a defensive or deterrent measure," we provided example after example of people in concealed carry states protecting themselves and others when attacked in their cars.

When HB12's sponsor, Jim Aslanides, met with the OSHP to ascertain their reasons for opposing concealed carry, he summarized the experience as follows:

"I spent hours begging for a compelling reason from the Highway Patrol. They have none."

When it became clear that they were going to lose the fight to ban concealed carry in motor vehicles, Born and the OSHP raised a new proposal: to ban concealed carry in a motor vehicle when children were present. That's right, they wanted to ensure that carjackers knew which cars they could attack without the threat of being shot - the ones with children in them.

Although the "Carjacker Protection" provision was eventually killed, the Born and OSHP did succeed in getting one major poison pill provision into the newly concealed carry law: license-holders wishing to carry in the car were forced to keep the firearm in "plain sight."

Lack of a definition of what consituted "plain sight" led to a great deal of confusion, both on the part of CHL-holders and the law enforcement officers tasked with enforcing it, and legislation to remove the requirement from Ohio law was introduced less than two years later. With Born no where in sight, and after some initial concerns were addressed, the OSHP eventually announced that it would take a neutral position on the bill. Bob Taft, on the other hand, never did come around, and the legislature had to override his veto to rid Ohio of the "plain sight" requirement forever.

And now, the first Republican governor since Bob Taft has made John Born head of OSHP, insisting that he is "going to do a great job in restoring the integrity of the highway patrol."

Much was said about John Kasich's mixed record on gun rights during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. In the closing days of the campaign, Republicans worked extremely hard to assure voters that "John Kasich and Mary Taylor will make a strong, unified stand for gun owners in Ohio." Many A and A+ -rated legislators literally said that they were "willing to stake our reputations on it." Kasich, they said, "is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment." Kasich assured radio listeners in Cleveland "I am not for gun control. I am strongly for the Second Amendment. People have the right to keep and bear arms. I'm a weapons owner myself. I own a hand gun and the bottom line is everyone should be relaxed on the Second Amendment – I am not interested in eroding it. I think the vote I cast in 1994 did not make things better at all and I don't want to be passing laws that clutter up the books and get in the way of people's having their rights."

Unfortunately, his appointment of John Born as OSHP superintendent is going to make the hill he needs to climb to prove to any doubters his commitment to the Second Amendment just a little bit steeper.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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