The Last Lesson

By Chad D. Baus

As many are aware, my history as a shooter and grassroots firearms activist begins not in Ohio, but in Tennessee. I lived in Nashville from 1994 - 2000, met my wife and married there. It was her father who introduced me to the shooting sports.

Many have also heard about my father-in-law's experience with an attempted carjacking, an incident which convinced me that it would be irresponsible for me not to obtain a Tennessee Handgun Carry License as part of my responsibility to protect my family.

Returning to Ohio in 2001 to join my family business, I immediately went looking for others who were trying to get a concealed carry law passed in Ohio and formed this political action committee with Jim Irvine and Mary Friscone in 2002.

A long-time sufferer of Parkinson's disease, my father-in-law died suddenly three weeks ago yesterday. While it would be tempting to use this space to eulogize what this target shooter, hunter and sportsman meant to me, I will instead pass on still more lessons I have learned, thanks to him.

Having been asked by mom-in-law to help take care of his affairs, close and move their small business, and make preparations to move her to Ohio, I drove around the city quite a bit. I made dozens of trips to car dealerships & insurance companies to file insurance claims, movers' supply companies to purchase boxes, grocers to obtain newspapers for the obituary page, major intersections to hang (& later remove) moving sale signs, etc. etc. etc. Every time I entered and exited that car, I found myself being thankful that I wasn't in Ohio.

You see, Tennessee law (like every other state except Ohio) does not contain a ridiculous provision requiring that I touch my firearm, concealed and unconcealing, each and every time I get in and out of a motor vehicle. Tennessee law allowed me to continue the safe practice of keeping my firearm concealed on my person. At the same time as I was safely going about this business, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of other Tennesseeans were doing exactly the same thing, without incident.

It was a long stressful two weeks, and I am certain that my sour mood contributed to an enhancement of the resentment I feel each time I make the drive back to Ohio, having to interrupt my trip in preparation to cross the Ohio border. So as I crossed the Ohio River one more time, I mused:

"Is the Tennessee Highway Patrol (or Kentucky, or Indiana, or Michigan, or Pennsylvania, etc. etc.) just that much more competent than the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which continues to assert that there are officer safety issues involved which necessitate Ohio's plain sight provision?"

"Are Tennessee elected officials (Democrats at the governor's mansion and in control of the state's House of Representatives) just that much more willing to trust their constituents than Republicans in Ohio?"

"What does it say about the Senate's Republican caucus these days that a governor with such abysmal approval ratings can stall important pro-gun legislation like HB347 in committee?"

" Only three hours more until home..."

Boy was I wrong about the last one, but that's a story for a different forum.

As I have so many times before when visiting Tennessee, I'm bringing home some lessons learned:

1. When it comes to our right to self-defense, party doesn't matter. The first Democrat I ever voted for was a pro-gun state legislator in Tennessee named Ben West. The second will be pro-gun legislator Marc Dann for Attorney General. Republican or not, Betty "I'll never be the candidate of the NRA" Montgomery must not be elected to a position of rendering legal opinions about Ohio's concealed carrry law, administrating reciprocity agreements, etc.

2. I will not help candidates who call themselves Republicans but who vote against my gun rights. As such, today I refused a request to help spread the word about a visit Mike Dewine's wife will soon be making to northwest Ohio.

3. I will not help candidates who call themselves Republicans but who play politics with my gun rights. As such, Senators who voted for Bill Harris to be Senate President need not call me asking for help getting reelected this fall - not with House Bill 347 stalled in committee.

No, this wasn't a fun trip to Tennessee. But like so many past journeys, I am thankful for the lessons learned, and thankful for the man who started me on this journey. May he rest in peace.

Chad D. Baus is a member of the Fulton County Republican Central Committee and Vice Chairman of Buckeye Firearms Association.

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