Anti-gun politician switches sides after being made victim in mugging

By Chad D. Baus

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Philip Morris is reporting that State Rep. Michael DeBose, a Cleveland Democrat who has a solid history of anti-gun votes in the Ohio legislature, has changed his mind in the wake of a violent robbery attempt near his home.

The op-ed begins with this:

It's funny how a gun can in stantly change your perspective on things, make you wish you could rewrite history. 

State Rep. Michael DeBose, a southside Cleveland Democrat, discovered this lesson the night of May 1, when he thought he was going to die. That's the night he wished he had that gun vote back.

While I am more than encouraged by Rep. DeBose's change in perspective, there is a question that must be asked.

Why? Why, with all of the mountains of testimony legislators heard, and presentations of evidence legislators received about the urgent need to restore the right to bear arms for self-defense, did it take a violent attack on his own person before Rep. DeBose could see the light? How many thousands of other people were made victims because of anti-gunners in the decade of debate over concealed carry in the Buckeye State?

Before anyone decides I'm being too hard on our new friend Rep. DeBose, let me offer full disclosure. Before an armed carjacker attacked my wife's father - a concealed handgun permit-holder from Tennessee - I was of the same mind DeBose was - well, sort of.

No, I was never, ever anti-gun. But I was also by no means an advocate for the right to carry, nor had I taken any steps to protect myself or my loved ones from a potential attack. Not until my father-in-law was forced to defend himself from a teenager armed with a stolen firearm, and wanted for homicide, was I forced to confront the fact that had it happened to me, I would have been killed, or would have been unable to protect my wife.

Whether quirk of human nature or a product of American culture, we are all to quick to convince ourselves that "it will never happen to me". But as Rep. DeBose found out the hard way on May 1, it can:

It was late, but DeBose, 51, was restless. The ordained Baptist minister knew his Lee-Harvard neighborhood was changing, but he wasn't scared. The idle, young men who sometimes hang out on his and adjacent streets didn't threaten him. He is a big man and, besides, he had run the same streets before he found Jesus - and a wife. That night, he just needed a walk.

The loud muffler on a car that slowly passed as he was finishing the walk caught his attention, though. When the car stopped directly in front of his house - three houses from where he stood - he knew there was going to be a problem.

"There was a tall one and a short one," DeBose said, sipping on a McDonald's milkshake and recounting the experience Friday.

"The tall one reached in his pocket and pulled out a silver gun. And they both started running towards me."

"At first I just backed up, but then I turned around and started running and screaming."

Morris goes on to recount how DeBose was chased by the armed "boy", who was eventually scared off when DeBose managed to draw the attention of neighbors by banging on a neighbor lady's door.

The loud muffler sped off, and DeBose started rethinking his gun vote. DeBose twice voted against a measure to allow Ohioans to carry concealed weapons. It became law in 2004.

DeBose voted his conscience. He feared that CCW permits would lead to a massive influx of new guns in the streets and a jump in gun violence. He feared that Cleveland would become the O.K. Corral, patrolled by legions of freshly minted permit holders.

"I was wrong," he said Friday.

"I'm going to get a permit and so is my wife.

"I've changed my mind. You need a way to protect yourself and your family.

"I don't want to hurt anyone. But I never again want to be in the position where I'm approached by someone with a gun and I don't have one."

Many others, at the moment they are made victims of violence, have the same realization Rep. DeBose had. Tragically, however, they don't always live to get a second chance. Rep. DeBose has been blessed not only with the gift to keep on living, but with an opportunity to make up for his votes against the right to choose to bear arms for self-defense.

And he's making up for lost time - echoing some of the exact same arguments I'm certain he's heard from constitients he formerly shunned:

DeBose said he knows that a gun doesn't solve Cleveland's violence problem; it's merely a street equalizer. "There are too many people who are just evil and mean-spirited. They will hurt you for no reason. If more people were packing guns, it might serve as a deterrent.

"But there obviously are far deeper problems that we need to address," he added...

Columnist Philip Morris concludes with this:

"They say the definition of a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. DeBose's CCW application will bear some witness to that notion."

The volunteers at Buckeye Firearms Association look forward to working with Rep. DeBose, and with any other urban politicians who have, until now, taken the same "it won't happen to me" approach to gun rights as he and I once made the mistake of doing.

Together, we can truly take steps to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

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