Letter to Senators from pro-HB12 police officer

An Ohio police officer and former Marine has copied us on a letter he submitted to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.

In the letter, Officer Douglas debunks any notion that Ohioans may exercise their constitutional right to self-defense by carrying a firearm "openly", by informing Senators that he was trained in police academy to charge persons doing so with disorderly conduct or inciting panic.

Mr Douglas also concurred with Gahanna Police Chief Murphy and Deputy Chief Rinehart, who testified that loading and unloading a firearm to comply with "victim zone" or parking lot bans is unsafe.

Senator Austria,

My name is Matt Douglas. I work as a Police Officer for [two city police departments] and also do off-duty security in the greater Cleveland area. I am also a former Marine Infantryman.

I am writing this email to tell you that I support concealed carry in Ohio as HB12 is worded, as no citizen can open carry without fear of arrest for inciting panic or disorderly conduct in most areas of the state. Also, I feel that the fears expressed by OHP and the FOP are groundless and have told them my opinion.

I feel that it is common sense that individuals who have no problem with breaking laws also have no problem with carrying and using handguns in spite of the current laws, so the current ban on concealed carry affects only those who are already law abiding citizens. I do not believe that allowing concealed carry and loaded carry in automobiles will increase danger to law enforcement officers as we already approach vehicles and people with the mindset that they are armed, to think otherwise would not be prudent for the officer interested in surviving to the end of the shift. In the parts of the state that I work as a police officer backup is often ten minutes or more away and in the event that my life would be threatened I would welcome assistance from a well armed citizen, since that assistance might well save my life.

I do not believe that allowing citizens to arm themselves would result in an increase in crime but would have the exact opposite result especially for the safety of women. As a husband and a parent I fear for the safety of my wife and children when I am not with them and would feel much better knowing that my wife had the option of defending herself and my children with a handgun without her fearing arrest just for having a concealed, loaded firearm on her person or in her vehicle. My wife has also expressed her desire to have this option for self defense, and has had training by me in the proper use of handguns and handgun marksmanship. Currently if my wife attempted to arm herself while travelling she would face arrest (plus confiscation of the handgun) and we as a family would face the high cost of her defense, even though she would have done what I believe to be her right.

As to the question of open carry, when I was in the police academy we were told by our instructors to arrest citizens who open carried and charge them with disorderly conduct or inciting panic. While this is not a written rule I have seen it followed throughout my career as a police officer.

My department, nor any other department cannot guarantee any one citizen's safety, that is the resposibility of that citizen. The OHP's desire to disallow license-holders from carrying in a car is not sensible, because requiring anyone, even an officer, to handle a firearm everytime to enter and exit their car is unsafe. Commen sense will tell you that the creation of "victim" zones, would increase rather than decrease the number of potential victims because thieves watch people in parking lots, and would quickly notice persons who were removing firearms for storage in their car and this will lead to more gun thefts.

Although I could say much more as a proponent of concealed carry I will close by saying that those who oppose concealed carry would do well to look to the other states that have concealed carry (especially Vermont) to see the results of their predictions. A person who is responsible enough to have the rights of citizenship should also have the right to carry and defend themselves with a handgun if they so chose.

Matt Douglas

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