Deja vu all over again: ''Million'' Mommer trying to scare businesses with op-ed

Crain's Cleveland Business editors and "Million" Mom/ Brady Bunch Clevelander Lori O'Neill have quite a history together.

In March of 2003, CCB editors published an editorial opposing the reformation of concealed carry laws in Ohio. This editorial bore striking similarity to a letter printed in multiple Ohio papers earier that month, written by Ms. O'Neill.

Despite their recent legislative defeat in Columbus, Crain's and O'Neill are at it again.

On January 12, 2004 Crain's timed a story on workplace violence to release with news that Ohio HB12 had finally become law. In the January 26 issue, O'Neill followed Crain's effort up with a retread of a year-old letter to the Cincinnati Enquirer editor.

In her latest piece, O'Neill has ignored facts presented in response to her 2003 business tirade by everyone from Cleveland Plain Dealer letter writers to the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants to the Columbus Business Journal, and is still attempting to scare Ohio businesses about Ohio's new self-protection/defense law.

As the Columbus Business Journal has pointed out, Crain's and O'Neill's scare tactics failed to rally opposition from business owners last year. Their current efforts to encourage businesses to discriminate against CHL holders should be met with the same objective recognition of the facts which the Ohio Legislature utilized in deciding to pass HB12.

We've heard (and responded to) her recycled claims before. But since these extremists refuse to let the facts get in the way of a good story, OFCC has submitted a response, which we hope Crain's will be good enough to publish. The piece will be published on this website after Crain's has had adequate time to make use of it.

Following is O'Neill's latest letter as it appears in Crain's.

Guns a workplace burden

Crain's Cleveland Business
January 26 - February 1, 2004 issue


Thank you for your Jan. 12 Page 11 story on workplace violence. Your timing could not have been better, considering that Gov. Bob Taft signed the concealed carry weapons bill into law on Jan. 8.

Now, Ohio employers have an additional burden to deal with - the prospect of employees and customers with concealed gun permits bringing their guns into the workplace. Since most of the states that allow concealed carry do not permit the public to know how many of those who perpetrate workplace violence are permit holders, it is impossible to quantify how concealed carry contributes to violence at work. What we do know is that employers and customers who bring loaded handguns into offices, medical establishments, retail stores and banks increase the risk that someone will be injured or killed by their guns.

Ohio businesses have the next 90 days to contemplate a response to the unnecessary burden concealed carry will place on their companies. Those who choose to prohibit guns from entering their premises must formulate policies, post signs, and make plans to secure the guns of those who would bring them in, or face the prospect of having armed employees and customers entering their work zones.

Many retail businesses are already wrestling with the fear of prohibiting permit holders, whose threats of boycotts are well-known. There is reassuring news, however. Statistics from the few states that release numbers of permit holders indicate that only a fraction of the total population applies for and receives gun permits.

Typically the number of permit holders comproses less than 1% of the total population of the state. So, while the gun lobby is notoriously threatening and noisy in their protests of those who prohibit concealed carry, their economic power is limited. The gun lobby can make life unpleasant for a while, but ultimately its impact on retailers and other businesses who choose not to permit loaded guns into their workspaces is minimal. Their bark is most definitely worse than their economic bite.

It is to be hoped that Ohio's business leaders will choose to keep their employers and customers safe from the increased risk concealed handguns pose to all of us.

Lori A. O'Neill
Million Mom March
Greater Cleveland Chapter

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