Mugging of Plain Dealer employee and subsequent commentary offers lesson in mindset

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. - Proverbs 22:3

by Chad D. Baus

On March 30, a Cleveland Plain Dealer employee was mugged in an isolated parking lot Wednesday night shortly after he left his office around 9:30 p.m.

There is little doubt doubt, given the history of The Plain Dealer's editorial animosity toward the practice of concealed carry, that employees are not allowed to exercise their right to bear arms for self-defense while at work, and it is equally likely that they are also prohibited from leaving a firearm in their motor vehicle while at work. As pro-self-defense rights advocates have long noted, policies like these result in employees being disallowed their right to bear arms for self-defense while traveling to and from work.

But this isn't just another commentary about another violent crime in a gun free zone. It is, rather, a case study on the victim mindset that far too many Ohioans continue to labor under.

From Plain Dealer columnist and editorial writer Phillip Morris' coverage of the incident:

The two low-lifes who swarmed him watched from a nearby car as he cleaned a late-March snow off his windows, then attacked and robbed him. They made off with his car, his wallet, his laptop, his BlackBerry and the natural sense of security that most young and middle-age men carry as a part of their identity. (They later abandoned the car, along with the laptop.)

For the two cowards who robbed my colleague -- a talented investigative reporter who also happens to be a man of imposing stature -- the attack has the trappings of a crime of opportunity.

For the reporter and his Plain Dealer family, the crime is an assault on our collective sense of security. The fear is that things could get worse on our eastern end of downtown even if we're vigilant and careful.

Note the (false) "sense of security" that Morris admits he and "his Plain Dealer family" are laboring under. Is it any surprise that people who are content to operate under a collective Culture of Sheep mentality would lack the ability to comprehend of why anyone else in the State of Ohio might wish to regain their right to bear arms for self-defense?

Again from the article:

Throughout the day Thursday, colleagues posted inter-office emails expressing concern about our friend -- who is shaken up, but OK -- as well as wondering what more The Plain Dealer could do in terms of security and guard deployment around its property. The newspaper plans to hire an off-duty police officer to patrol the grounds at night.

That The Plain Dealer has not chosen, up to now, to provide security to protect their defenseless employees speaks volumes. That they have chosen to publish their future security plans, such as they are, speaks even louder.

So while it appears the employees at The Plain Dealer may be waking up to the fact that their "sense of security" is a fantasy, Morris' commentary goes on to say why they believe concealed carry isn't the answer to the problem.

Again from the article:

But the conversation needs to go well beyond the walls of The Plain Dealer. Parts of Cleveland and a number of its contiguous suburbs remain unsafe places.

Muggings -- vicious muggings -- happen every day. Many of them go unreported to the police or the media, depending on the neighborhoods or status of the victims. Robberies, assaults and car thefts are also common crimes of opportunity that seldom receive any ink or airplay.

But that is likely to change as the question of safety returns to the forefront of the public agenda. The state of Ohio is preparing to inflict punishing financial hits on counties, cities and most other political subdivisions, through severe cuts in the local-government fund as well as the possible elimination of the estate tax. Many government services will be compromised.

Look for public safety to be among those services that will deteriorate. At some point, many cities will have to honestly address the following question:

Can they afford to keep their citizens safe?

And if they can't -- and are honest about it -- what is a citizen to do?

Which brings us back to the question of safety in the face of declining public resources. What is required beyond vigilance?

I asked my colleague who suffered the attack, and who does not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, whether a gun would have made a difference.

If he were armed, could he have more easily fended off his assailants?

His response was unequivocal.

"It happened too quickly. A gun would not have made a difference."

He said he does not intend to start carrying a weapon, and he added that he would simply be more careful about where he parks in the future.

That measured response is entirely consistent with his demeanor and the way he carries himself. I have a great deal of respect for him.

It seems pretty clear from the description of this incident that the crime victim spends most, of not all of this time in what Jeff Cooper, one of the 20th century's foremost international experts on the use and history of small arms, termed Condition White (unaware and unprepared).

It is his obliviousness to his surroundings that likely sent a strong message to his attackers that he was an easy mark. It is entirely possible that an alert person, operating in Condition Yellow (relaxed alert), may have deterred the attackers simply by his demeanor. But if they still decided to attempt the robbery, it is also likely that a person operating in Condition Yellow would have already spotted the potential threat and switched to Condition Orange (specific alert), so as to have avoided being caught totally unaware when the attack began, and instead having gained enough time to switch to Condition Red (fight), wherein having had a gun might have made a LOT of difference.

Rather than learn from this incident, it appears that The Plain Dealer employee hopes to get back to his false sense of security as soon as possible, and plans only to alter his choice of parking spots in order to accomplish this. While Morris expresses his respect for this "measured response" (read: return to sheep-dom), Morris recognizes that more and more Ohioans are making far different plans for the potential day when they are attacked:

But for others, this type of attack -- and the possibility of an increased frequency of similar assaults in the face of declining public safety forces -- will only lead to more people arming themselves.

Balancing Ohio's state budget on the backs of its cities will undoubtedly escalate the arms race.

Call it an unintended consequence.

If rates of applicants for Ohio CHLs continue to grow, it will only be the continuation of a trend established more than two years ago. Ohioans have been obtaining concealed handgun licenses at increased rates ever since passage of Senate Bill 184, which removed many of most egregious aspects of the original concealed carry law. Ever since that time, have averaged over 13,000 new licensees per quarter - more than double the average of 5,800 per quarter in the four years before SB184 was passed, and before President Obama was elected.

Ohio sheriffs issued CHLs a rate of almost 250 per business day over the course of 2010. At year-end there were approximately 217,518 Ohioans licensed to carry concealed, and millions of out-of-state residents who may carry here on other state-issued licenses. People who carry concealed weapons are not some small fringe group, as has often been alleged by editorial writers at The Plain Dealer.

Thankfully, there are more prudent people every day who are realizing that it is not someone else's job to protect them, but rather their own. For some, the realization only occurs after a threatening encounter. Sadly, even that doesn't seem to have phased employees at The Plain Dealer.

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

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