Headline: 'No guns' signs called a joke

The Columbus Dispatch is has, to its credit, finally done what other Ohio newspapers have failed to do. As part of its "Conceal-Carry Anniversary" coverage, the newspaper has published a story examining the problem of criminals taking guns into businesses and public areas posted with "no-guns" signs, and investigated two recent incidents of disarmed CHL-holders being victimized because they had been disarmed by the law and the signs.

From the story:

    Mark Noble was waiting for a bus when a man intent on stealing his backpack slammed him to the ground. Noble pulled his Mace, but the spray only made the attacker hit him harder.

    Noble, who has a license to carry a concealed gun, wished he had had his pistol.

    "When you’re pinned to the ground and you can’t move and you’ve Maced the guy and he’s still attacking, you’ve run out of options," said Noble, 28. "If I rolled over with a gun instead of a can of Mace, I think he would have stopped."

    The attack occurred Feb. 23 at N. 4 th Street and E. Maynard Avenue in the University District. It ended when an Ohio State University bus driver stopped and the mugger ran away.

    Noble, an OSU electrical-engineering student, didn’t have his pistol because he had just left the campus, where guns are forbidden. He couldn’t have taken it on the bus anyway, because of a Central Ohio Transit Authority policy.

    Nearly a year after Ohio began allowing residents to carry concealed handguns, permit holders such as Noble are frustrated by the no-gun signs in public and private buildings.

    Critics say those signs won’t deter someone determined to commit a crime.

The story, written by Evan Goodenow, goes on to reveal that a recent incident of a hostage-taking situation at Safe Auto Insurance's headquarters in Columbus was yet another example of a gun crime in a posted "gun-free" zone. The deranged attacker, a frustrated former employee who had just been fired, shot himself to death in the office.

Again, from the story:

    Safe Auto Insurance in Whitehall has a no-gun sign, but it didn’t stop employee Reginald J. Edwards from firing a shot and taking a hostage before fatally shooting himself there on March 23.

    A no-gun sign was on display at the Fifth Third Bank on the Far East Side, where a would-be robber killed Columbus Police Officer Bryan Hurst on Jan. 6.

    Guns are forbidden at the Alrosa Villa on the North Side, but that didn’t stop Nathan Gale from killing four people at the nightclub before a police officer fatally shot him on Dec. 8.

    Roger Caron, who was about 5 feet away when Gale began shooting, wished he had had his .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol with him. The Westerville man has a license to carry a concealed gun, but state law prohibits guns in places that serve alcohol.

    "I can’t say without any doubt whatsoever that I would have been able to stop the situation," he said, "but I really think that the extra people that were shot could have been minimized."

After explaining that current Ohio law even disallowed Al Rosa security guards from carrying handguns that night, Goodenow goes on to explore some of the other problems caused by so-called "no-guns" zones:

    The Columbus Sewers and Drains Division does not allow carpenter Richard M. Berry to carry his gun on the job or to lock it in his car in a city parking lot on Fairwood Avenue. So Berry parks on the street and worries that his gun will be stolen.

    "It’s wrong that the city’s doing this, and it’s not just me," said Berry, who said he likes to have the gun when he visits friends in high-crime neighborhoods at night. "There are other city employees who have the same problem."

    Even the Statehouse, where the concealed-carry law was enacted, prohibits weapons, as do many of the businesses on Capitol Square, including The Dispatch.

    But not Smokers’ Haven at 21 E. State St.

    "The people who go through the steps to get a concealed weapons permit are no threat to me or my customers," said Stephen L. Ayotte, manager of the tobacco shop and a permit holder. The threats "are the ones who don’t pay attention to the law."

    When he sees no-gun signs in businesses, Ayotte hands out cards he ordered from Ohioans for Concealed Carry. They identify him as a licensed gun holder and state that he plans to boycott the business. But some merchants say their customers like the signs.

    Muhammad Salamah, a clerk at the Fine Foods Market in South Linden, said many of his older customers have said they feel safer with the no-gun sign on the front door.

    But Salamah agrees that the sign provides a false sense of security. "It’s just a piece of paper," he pointed out.

The story includes a few comments from the concealed carry law's original sponsor, Rep. Jim Aslanides, who said that while the signs are ridiculous, he respects the business' private property rights.

The story concludes as follows:

    Noble wound up with a $659 emergency-room bill for treatment of his bloody nose and a fear that no-gun policies will prevent him from defending himself if he’s attacked again.

    "I don’t hear of a lot of criminals going around and threatening people with anything greater than a gun, so, worst-case scenario, (with a concealed-carry permit) you’re going to be on an equal footing," Noble said.

    "If stopping crime were as easy as putting up a no-crime sign, then everyone would do it."

Cudos to the Columbus Dispatch and reporter Evan Goodenow for finally addressing this very important issue. It is high-time the complete failure of "no-guns" signs to create zones of safety is acknowledged by all rational Ohioans, as we prepare for the push to restore Ohioans' self-defense rights at rest areas, college campuses, restaurants, etc.

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