Miss-Led Volume II

The liberal media and gun ban extremists are really trying to make something of the news that politicians' early predictions about the number of concealed handgun licenses were above actual application rates.

Gannett News Service reporter Jim Siegel has published an article entitled "Demand for gun permits low - Sponsor wants to change law", which has already appeared in most Gannett-owned Ohio papers, and by virtue of being picked up by the Associated Press, will be appearing in media reports throughout the state this weekend.

Siegel never bothered to call the OFCC PAC for a statement, but he did, of course, remember to call Toby Hoover.

Not to be outdone, the Toledo Blade's Marilou Johanek (not-so-fondly dubbed in a prior article on this website as "Miss-Led", is severely under reporting the numbers of Ohio licensees to try and support her claim that "most of the people" in Ohio do not support concealed carry.

The facts are these: from being proven right about the problems with the Senate version of House Bill 12 to getting businesses to take down discriminatory signs, we are winning - and they just don't like it.

Click on the "Read More..." link below to read Johanek's op-ed, with OFCC PAC commentary.

Commentary inserted in blue.

June 18, 2004
Toledo Blade

Minority pushed bad law enacted for bad reasons

HERE'S a perfect example of what happens when legislators create and pass laws not for the majority but for a small minority that makes a lot of noise. Lest anyone doubt that Ohio lawmakers labor on behalf of special interests and not most of the people in this great state, I submit concealed-carry, a bad law enacted for bad reasons.

That Johanek and others cannot see past how few people obtain concealed handgun licenses (in ANY state) when considering the motivation for passage of these laws is telling. On average, about 2-3% of citizens have chosen to obtain licenses in most states. Yet the downward impact of these laws on crime rates is substantial. These laws aren't just about pleasing those citizens who wish to exercise their right to bear arms for self-defense - they are about deterring crime and reducing victimizations of ALL Ohioans - even Ms. Johanek.

How would you judge state legislators who shamelessly cater to powerful influences from out-of-state along with a small number of Ohio citizens who do not reflect majority opinion?

The law that nobody but special interests and a small but vocal group of firearms fanatics wanted is still the law that nobody wants except for the National Rifle Association and homegrown more-is-better gun coalitions.

We'd truly love to see Ms. Johanek provide proof for her claim that concealed carry is not supported by majority opinion. She won't be able to, which is why she didn't. In a pre-9/11 poll by the Ohio State University and Columbus Dispatch, 67% of Ohioans said they preferred a CCW law that had training and background checks. This is the latest poll we are aware of that measured Ohioans' opinion on the matter.

Nationwide, Zogby International's 2004 Values poll recently found that voters overwhelmingly favor these self-protection laws by a margin of 79% to 18%. Right-to-Carry drew better than 70% support in every demographic group, with even non-gun owners indicating their backing by 73% to 23%. Certainly these legislators know what Johanek is not willing to admit.

Some critics describe the gun lobbyists - who routinely fire off (sorry) angry missives to any who dare suggest they curb their passion to purchase and point weapons - as obsessive nuts.

I, on the other hand, fully aware that gun lovers will likewise target this retrospective on concealed carry, regard them in a more charitable light as simply misguided ideologues with aggressive tendencies.

In April when Ohio's 145-year-old ban against carrying concealed weapons was scrapped to give Ohioans the right to carry concealed weapons for self-protection, Attorney General Jim Petro guessed at least 100,000 or more citizens would rush out to obtain the necessary license in the first six months of the program.

After all, people were surely dying for the right to defend themselves in the Wild, Wild, Heartland. But it appears the AG's estimate was roughly four times higher than the actual number of Ohioans eager to arm themselves with hidden weaponry.

In the first several weeks of the program about 10,000 concealed/carry permits have been issued. At that rate maybe 25,000 will be granted in six months, a far cry from Mr. Petro's wishful thinking. Gun proponents blame bureaucratic slowdowns for discouraging would-be applicants from seeking permits to carry hidden handguns. Oh, cry me a river.

What committed gun enthusiast is going to let a little paperwork get in the way of packing heat? Yet if even 50,000 to 75,000 Ohioans apply to carry concealed weapons in the next couple of years they will still represent only a fraction of the state's population.

Before the law was implemented, Ohioans For Concealed Carry projected that as many as 100,000 applicants could be expected in the first 12 months. Attorney General Petro suggested that number could be reached in as little as six months.

But neither Mr. Petro nor OFCC took into consideration the possibility that a number of Ohio sheriffs would intentionally not follow the law, or would make applications procedures so exceedingly difficult that only a handful of people may apply each week. Sheriffs in two of Ohio's most populous counties - Cuyahoga and Franklin - along with certain others, have slowed the process down. But they can't stop it.

Even in spite of these few Sheriffs' poor performance (some of which have taken lawsuits to attempt to correct), the number of issued licenses is 22,000 and climbing (this number does not include the thousands of applications that are still being processed). Johanek is simply wrong in her claim that only 10,000 licenses have been issued.

Rep. Jim Aslanides predicted that, had the House version of HB12 been made law, 3% of Ohioans would have obtained licenses in the next three years. Aslanides blames the bill's numerous restrictions and a clause allowing newspapers to publish names of permit holders as reasons why fewer persons than he expected are getting licenses. "Prior to passage of the bill, I said this would happen," he told the Gannett News Service this week.

As discussed above, NO ONE has ever claimed that more than a "fraction of the state's population", as Johanek put it, would obtain CHLs. We DID claim that it would force crime rates down, just as it has in Michigan, where crime dropped 10.5% in the first two years after passage, while Ohio's rate climbed 5%.

Which means that because state lawmakers decided to act in the best interest of a tiny but aggressive core constituency that pushed relentlessly for a decade to make concealed-carry law, the rest of Ohio's 11.5 million residents will have to live with the consequences.

Now it's our turn to cry a river. Living with consequences like fewer rapes, aggravated assaults and violent robberies shouldn't be too hard on Ms. Johanek and her ilk, should it?

In a belated but interesting development, the state's silent majority is moving to arm itself with counter measures to protect a largely supportive citizenry from their shortsighted state leaders and the special interests they serve.

Have you noticed? Lately it's almost the rare business in Ohio that does not have the now familiar poster at the front door declaring the premises to be firearms-free. Instead of a cigarette in a circle with a line through it, patrons frequently see the black silhouette of a handgun crossed out.

The clearly posted prohibitions against anyone knowingly possessing firearms and other dangerous weapons on both private and public property are everywhere. One was even spotted in a state rest stop along one of the more heavily traveled state routes in northern Ohio.

Johanek is living in a dream world (perhaps nightmare is a better word for Toledo). There are over one-half million businesses in Ohio. 0.00018 of those businesses are listed on OFCC's Do Not Patronize While Armed database. Johanek's silent "majority" sounds just about like the one that OFCC fought for so many years to get the law passed - according to a February story in the Dayton Daily News, "gun advocates...sent 11 times as many letters, faxes and e-mails to Gov. Bob Taft and called his office 3 1/2 times as much as opponents of the concealed-carry bill did."

Does even the state have problems with the state law?

Ohio mayors are joining the trend to prohibit what the legislature passed. On behalf of the public's welfare, city officials in a number of areas, including Elyria and Clyde in northern Ohio and the village of Arcanum in western Ohio, are banning handguns in their parks and recreational areas. The ordinances may indeed conflict with state law but who wants concealed-carry allowed at swimming pools or playgrounds filled with kids?

Translation - our public officials may be willingly violating their oaths of office for political purposes, but who cares, since I like how they're doing it?

Thanks to our hapless lawmakers doing the bidding of misguided but pushy ideologues, we're stuck thinking up ways to minimize the damage of their foolishness.

While a fraction of the population is determined to carry guns hidden in a purse or under a jacket or in a glove box just in case, the rest of us worry about the worst-case scenario when road, work, or play rage finds a trigger within easy reach.

Worry all you want, Marilou, but it just doesn't happen. You are fretting over the wrong bunch. Read some of the headlines in Toledo - your city's gun bans and prohibitions have done nothing stop the miscreants you constantly, and unknowingly share space with. Even in a place where guns are banned, you won't now a bad guy ignored the signs until he is stealing your purse, or worse, what is left of your dignity. And he will NOT have a concealed handgun license.

So besides the long list of exemptions already established in the concealed-carry law, public and private enterprises are adding new ones every day.

If eventually concealed-carry is banned in more places in Ohio than not, what's the use of carrying concealed firearms in the first place? My point exactly.

The law should and would go away if the majority opinion of Ohioans counted for something in Columbus. But until wisdom is elected to the Statehouse, guess my verdict for lawmakers who persist in making bad law for bad reasons.

Marilou Johanek is a Blade commentary writer. E-mail her at [email protected]

Related Story: A few Sheriffs' difficult licensing procedures deterring applicants

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