DDN story on Attorney General's armed driver exposes need to eliminate no-guns zones

By Chad D. Baus

The Dayton Daily News reported over the weekend that Attorney General Marc Dann authorized his driver, a concealed handgun license (CHL)-holder, to carry his firearm at all times as part of his job duties.

Dann's driver, who the DDN reports obtained his CHL in January, immediately began running into a problem that faces every single one of the more than 100,000 Ohio CHL-holders on a daily basis: there are far too many "no-guns" victim zones in the Buckeye State.

From the story:

John Conley, 61, got a permit to carry a concealed weapon from Franklin County on Jan. 2. State law prohibits non-law enforcement people from carrying guns into state-owned buildings such as the Statehouse and the Rhodes Tower where Dann has his office.

...Conley said he carries a 9 mm handgun issued to him by BCI, which is part of the attorney general's office.

...Conley acknowledged that he has carried his weapon in the Rhodes Tower and on the state plane since January.

The story also reveals that Ben Espy, the deputy attorney general in charge of the criminal division, also has a valid CHL, and that a letter from Dann stated that "out of concern for his own personal safety has requested that he be permitted to have a weapon in his automobile...through May 23, 2008."

The Daily News, and reporter Laura Bischoff in particular, have never been friendly to gun owners or to concealed carry. (Bischoff's most memorable story among Ohio gun owners came in the wake of passage of Ohio's concealed carry law in 2004, when Bischoff suggested that the "gun lobby" bought the law by outspending gun control extremists.) As such, it should be no surprise that the DDN is focusing solely on the question of whether or not Dann had the legal authority to permit his driver to enter state-mandated "no-guns" zones.

Ohio Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Craig Cvetlan said only commissioned police officers acting in their official capacities may carry concealed weapons in the Rhodes Tower, but he is uncertain whether the Ohio Building Authority may give a waiver upon request.

The question is worth exploring. But so is the other issue exposed by this story, which is the irresponsible action of the Ohio General Assembly in establishing so many "no-guns" victim zones.

Any state employee with a CHL should be allowed to carry if they so choose. Just because they have gone to work should not override the right to self-defense and make their life worthless if attacked.

As this example shows, there are completely legitimate reasons for which CHL-holders should not be forced to give up their Constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense when they enter a publicly-owned building such as a highway rest stop, or go to eat at a restaurant with their family just because the eatery serves adult beverages, etc.

Ohio CHL-holders, including John Conley and Ben Espy, deserve the human right of self-defense at work as much as anywhere else, and the Ohio General Assembly should act now to eliminate Ohio's embarrassing list of "no-guns" victim zones.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio Chair, and teaches the Ohio Concealed Carry class through Northwest Self Defense LLC.

DDN UPDATE: Dann's employees admonished on weapons issue
Driver, security agents can't carry concealed weapons in state buildings.

Attorney General Marc Dann's driver and security agents are not allowed to carry concealed weapons into state buildings, airplane hangars, parking garages or any other state property.

"Please cease doing so immediately," wrote First Assistant Attorney General Tom Winters to three employees on Monday, April 21, after the Ohio Department of Public Safety told Winters that non-sworn officers weren't authorized to carry concealed weapons on state property.

...The same day Dann's office released records to our reporters about Conley carrying a gun, Dann sent a letter to the Ohio Building Authority saying Conley and Mark Majetich, another security agent, "carry loaded, concealed weapons at all times. They are both properly licensed and trained to handle and carry these weapons." Dann's letter also said Executive Attorney General Ben Espy has a CCW permit and wanted permission to have his weapon in the state-owned parking garage.

"Absolutely not. That violates state law," said Ohio Building Authority Executive Director Mark Gibson on Wednesday, April 23.

...In November, Dann's office paid $399.90 for Conley and Gutierrez to attend a CCW class at the New Albany Shooting Range near Columbus. Dann spokesman Ted Hart said obtaining a CCW was not part of Gutierrez' job and paying for the class was not authorized.

"It was discussed and specifically rejected. Mr. Gutierrez put it in and it somehow got through. It will be deducted from his pay," Hart said.

Gutierrez ran the mail room, office fleet, maintenance and purchasing operations. He used a state-issued purchasing card for the class, state records show.

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