Letter to the Editor: Gun lobby has been shameless in efforts to villify OSHP
Athens News ([email protected])
Gun lobby has been shameless in efforts to villify State Highway Patrol
It's mid September and the General Assembly is back in session. How did pro-gun legislators and the gun lobby spend their summer vacations? Hurling insults at the Ohio State Highway Patrol and its 1,493 troopers because the OSHP wants to protect its patrol officers and Ohio's citizens from unnecessary injury and death from loaded handguns carried in cars.
When House Bill 12, the current version of a concealed carry weapons bill, reached the Senate earlier this year, the OSHP requested an amendment to the bill that would require permit holders who transport loaded handguns in their cars to keep them in plain sight of an officer conducting a traffic stop; it would also require permit holders who have children under the age of 18 in their cars to secure their handguns in a locked compartment.
The OSHP sought to minimize the danger to its officers and protect minor children when riding with adults carrying loaded guns. The OSHP is painfully aware of how many peace officers are killed by guns each year in the line of duty. They also know how easy it is for children to end up on the wrong end of a gun, especially in the confines of an automobile.
But if you give credence to the inflammatory claims of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is the enemy of the people of Ohio. OFCC wants you to believe that the Highway Patrol's concern for the safety of its officers and minor children is in fact an invitation to criminals to attack people in their cars. In their desperation to get a liberal concealed carry weapons bill passed in Ohio, they'll say anything. They'll even accuse law enforcement officers of deliberately endangering the people they're sworn to protect. The gun lobby has a history of demonizing law enforcement when they favor reasonable restrictions on firearms. To them, there is no such thing as a reasonable restriction when it comes to guns. It's all guns all the time, regardless of how many children, law enforcement officers and ordinary people die each year because of easy accessibility to firearms.
Ohio's gun-crazy legislators declined to support the Highway Patrol while the OFCC was conducting its smear campaign this summer. They were content to sit back and watch the gun lobby attack the hard-working men and women of the OSHP, who risk their lives to protect ours. These elected officials, like the OFCC, are trying to force the OSHP to drop their demand for common-sense restrictions on guns so the gun radicals in the House will approve the Senate's version of a concealed carry weapons bill. The OSHP should remain firm in their stance, knowing that the majority of Ohioans appreciate their efforts to protect us.
Lori A. O'Neill
O'Neill is president of the "Million" Mom March Greater Cleveland Chapter.
Click here to read another version of the same letter in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Click on the "Read More..." link below to read our response, which will be sent to each newspaper which prints her letter. We hope they all have the courage to print it.
September 25, 2003
In her letter to the PD editor, "Highway Patrol wants reasonable gun laws",
Lori O'Neill puts words the mouths of over 50,000 Ohioans For Concealed Carry
supporters. Please allow me the opportunity to correct her errors:
"In their desperation to get a liberal concealed-carry weapons bill passed in
Ohio, (Ohioans For Concealed Carry will) say anything. Even accuse law-
enforcement officers of deliberately endangering the people they're sworn to
Mrs. O'Neill frequently reads our website, and must be aware that we have
NEVER said the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) is "deliberately" endangering
the taxpayers who fund them. We HAVE made it public that the Buckeye State
Sheriffs Association and Ohio Fraternal Order of Police believe that OSHP-
endorsed language in Senate-amended HB12 WILL endanger people, and that we
agree with these two major law enforcement groups.
"To (OFCC), there is no such thing as a reasonable restriction when it comes
to guns. It's all guns, all the time, regardless of how many children, law-
enforcement officers and ordinary people die each year because of easy
accessibility to firearms."
In actuality, OFCC has been accused by some of being much too willing to
compromise on proposed restrictions in concealed carry reform legislation. We
believe that saving lives and preventing rapes and other violent attacks through this reform is too important to get hung up over certain flash-point issues. On the other hand, when the OSHP is endorsing language that Ohio's two major law enforcement organizations - Ohio's sheriff's and FOP - believe will result in MORE injuries or deaths, we must draw a line in the sand.
"But Ohioans for Concealed Carry wants you to believe that the highway patrol's concern for the safety of its officers and minor children is, in fact, an invitation to criminals to attack people in their cars."
When Florida passed their concealed carry law in 1987, the legislature failed to take into account tourists. Criminals quickly realized that the only people they could be sure were defenseless were people driving rental vehicles, and most will remember the headlines (and deaths) that resulted. It stands to reason that the same would occur here. If a law is passed with OSHP/Taft endorsed language, denying persons their self-defense rights in vehicles with minor occupants, criminals will begin profiling cars with minor children on board. It is a consequence unintended by the OSHP or Taft, but a consequence for which they would be entirely responsible.
"The OSHP should remain firm in its stance, knowing that the majority of Ohioans appreciate its efforts to protect us."
On this we agree - we would hope that 100% of Ohioans appreciate law
enforcement efforts to protect them. But the harsh reality is, they CANNOT protect us. Gahanna (a suburb of Columbus) Deputy Police Chief Larry Rinehart testified to this fact in Senate testimony last May: "I cannot guarantee the safety of any citizens of Gahanna,'' Rinehart said. "Safety is a right and responsibility of the individual. Conceal-and-carry is a tool to be used in an
All OFCC members are asking for is that citizens have a right to choose to bear arms for self-defense, as is enumerated in our state Constitution, and as is in general practice in 45 other states across the nation. Current state law and the Ohio Supreme Court say we can do so openly (not concealed), without training, background checks, or restrictive "victim" zone exclusions.
If that's the way O'Neill prefers it, then she prefers a much more liberal self-defense law than have we.
Chad D. Baus
Ohioans For Concealed Carry
14761 Pearl Road #308
Cleveland OH 44136
- 1597 reads