My Victim Zone Encounter

By Ken Hanson

There has been much said about Ohio's prohibition on carrying in a state owned restroom. That's right, if you pull over in a state park or state rest area, you are technically committing a felony if you go inside armed. Needless to say it has been a banner year for weeds around Ohio's restrooms.
This really hit home in a kind of hybrid way two weeks ago.

After spending 12 hours teaching a CCW class, my family and I loaded into van and started out on our yearly trip to NC for a week at the beach. We got started at 10:30 p.m. The first 4 hours were uneventful. Having gotten south of Charleston, WV on the turnpike, my wife and I decided to stop and switch drivers for safety's sake. We pulled off at one of the turnpike rest stops. This is not really like Ohio's rest stops, but my understanding is the plaza is built by the state and then sublet to the tenants, thus, in Ohio, it would also be banned property. In any event, the Ohio alternative would have been one of our own (in)famous rest stops, which are conclusively banned.

I pulled in and dropped my wife off to use the facilities. After confirming she was in the building safely, I parked. Right about the same time, across the parking lot, I saw a car, with two elderly people in it, have the alarm start going off. A male who had been by the driver's door started walking away from the car very quickly, and unfortunately right at my van. Keep in mind my 8 year old daughter and 3 year old son are sound asleep in their back seats, where they are strapped in.

You've probably guessed by now this wasn't a rest stop employee checking on our welfare. This gentleman approaches our van and begins demanding money. During the course of our "discussion" it wakes up my 8 year old daughter, who begins to freak out. Just woke up and there is a strange man at my door demanding money. Keep in mind I can't drive away because I would be leaving my wife helpless when she walks back out of the building none the wiser.

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I must admit, at this point, prior to to leaving on this trip, I looked at West Virginia's laws once again. One half of my family is from West Virginia, and I just cannot figure out the "reasoning" behind their firearm laws. In any event, I had relied upon the representation that open carry in a car in West Viriginia is legal. (That's right, West Viriginia allows anyone to do in a car what Ohio requires a license for. Thank you Ohio State Patrol.) So, I had some extra confidence in my discussions with this man.

I never needed to reach for my gun, refer to my, or show my gun. Rather, it gave me the confidence to get this man to back away from my vehicle with just my voice and posture.

No sooner had I done this, then ANOTHER man came between two cars and started approaching our van. Knowing exactly what was going on this time, I gave him a good command voice instruction and posture before he got near the van, and he backed away before getting anywhere near, while I was able to keep my eyes on his buddy still moving off. (i.e. he wasn't a distraction so his buddy could loop back.) I was able to drive over and pick up my wife safely, and continue on our journey. My daughter went back to sleep after a while.

I share this story for several reasons. First, I have been through all sorts of training, and this was my first "real life" experience. The training we go through works. Criminals are predators, and only respect strength. When I stood up to them, they ran in confusion (fear).

Second, the only reason I believe I had the courage to stand up to them and show strength was that I knew I had a Plan B tucked away on my hip. The criminals never knew the gun was there, yet the gun helped me out of the situation. This is a value of concealed carry that most people miss.

Third, had things gone horribly wrong, I had a fighting chance. Anyone care to take on two attackers bare handed with two small children asleep while in the back seat while waiting for a spouse, who has no idea what is happening, to start walking back into the confrontation? Still think you should only carry in those situations where you think you'll need to?

Fourth, we need to fight for reciprocity whenever possible. I hate the fact that I had to sit down and decide whether I wanted to risk carrying openly in West Virginia, given what eventually happened. I mean, their own state police websites have statements like "while this is technically allowed, don't be surprised if we pull you out at gun point." Gee, nice choice matrix.

Fifth, when my daughter was really freaked out, and terribly upset, what calmed her down was me finally saying, "Look, you've seen daddy shoot, and you know daddy works to help people learn how to shoot. What would have happened to that bad guy had he tried to hurt us?" Her knowing my training with a gun, combined with knowing I had the gun, calmed her down, whereas all the touchy feely stuff up to that point had not.

Sixth, Ohio's restrictions on carrying into a state owned potty is absurd. Read the crime reports, crime happens at our state rest stops with frightening regularity, including murders. Growing up, a family we knew well suffered the loss of their patriarch at an I-70 W rest stop. Go to your local municipal court on arraignment day and find out what is going on in your park bathrooms. As a municipal prosecutor, I will tell you that you will be absolutely astounded at what is happening.

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