Another Ohio journalist stands up for the Second Amendment...and you won't believe who her editor is
By Chad D. Baus
Mention the words "Sandusky Register" or "Editor Matt Westerhold" to a Concealed Handgun License (CHL)-holder and the reaction will not be pleasant, even nearly a year after one newspaper editor's declaration of war on Ohio CHL-holders.
Though Westerhold refused to remove from the Register website information that is considered private under Ohio law (or even apologize for publishing it in the first place), Register Police & Courts Reporter Holly Abrams has been undergoing a conversion experience that will warm the hearts of Ohio gun owners.
On February 3, Abrams published a news story entitled "Firearms safety course aims to educate," which took a (rare for the media) fair and balanced look at the concealed carry issue.
Last week, Abrams pubished an op-ed entitled "I'm on target," in which she details her new-found love (actually, her word was addiction) for the shooting sports.
Last week I fired a gun for the second time.
The first time was back in the fall when I participated in the Sandusky police citizen's academy. I wrote a column on my overall experience and included a tidbit on an evening at the shooting range. My second time shooting was through the Erie County Sheriff's office citizen's academy, which I have been a part of for the past eight weeks.
I have to say I might be an addict now. I was so proud of my targets after going to the range I took them into the office.
My boss said, "Holly's a killer!" when he saw it. I smiled and laughed. Others were left speechless. Others, maybe afraid to ever get into a beef with me again.
Assuming her "boss" is Editor Matt Westerhold, is it any surprise that his perception is that good marksmanship makes one a "killer"?
Again, from the Abrams' column:
Guns are a huge debate for people. Just like talking about religion, money or politics -- you will get in trouble if you do. Guns are the same way. Some people love them, some people hate them.
Up until recently I honestly can say I didn't have much of an opinion either way. Growing up I came from a home where my dad would go hunting, come home and often skin the deer in the middle of the garage.
Later on my dad participated in some target shooting competitions but I knew little about the sport. My point being is all this gun-related activity seemed commonplace for me.
Last year when I started working at the Register, shortly thereafter we published a list of area conceal carry permit holders on our Web site. That's something I'm sure few readers have forgotten even a year later.
I felt the repercussions of the list as random people would often complain to me about it after discovering where I work. A few months back I wrote a story about how to obtain your conceal carry permit in Ohio, including taking the necessary training. That helped me understand the reasons why someone may desire to do so.
Personally I don't think it's necessary to have a conceal carry permit but I also don't think guns are bad. And if someone wants one I'm not going to persecute them for it. We do live in a free society.
Last summer, Westerhold (who had, in a previous job at the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, attacked gun owners' privacy in similar fashion) kept asserting that he had published the information "as a service to our readers." It is certainly interesting to read Abrams' acknowledgment of the "repercussions" the Register received from the very readers Editor Westerhold claimed to be "servicing."
It's been said before but I do believe people kill people, guns don't kill people. What may not be so easily noted is of those deaths reported by the CDC -- more than 97 percent were intentional.
I'm not trying to be morbid here but... there are a variety of ways someone could be murdered, gunshot being only one way. You don't see many anti-knife lobbyists out there do you?
But gun-related violence is why people say firearms are bad.
Another excellent point by Abrams. I would add that we also do not see her boss publishing lists of people who own knives (or baseball bats, or sleeping pills, or any other of the hundreds of items that have been used to commit murder) in his newspaper.
After my experiences at the shooting range I've found target shooting to be an enjoyable pastime, just like someone who may enjoy shooting bow and arrow or someone who likes playing paintball.
Some may still disagree. Some may see a lethal weapon as something slightly less than a pastime and I respect those differing views.
For me, I guess this is just a story of the unexpected. Before taking part in the citizen's academies did I ever imagine shooting a gun? Heck no! But now that I have I'm pleased to have experienced a little more of what life has to offer.
On behalf of Buckeye Firearms Association, I'd like to welcome Holly Abrams to the pro-Second Amendment community. Am I the only one who thinks it's time for Gov. Ted Strickland to declare May "Take Your Boss Shooting" month in Ohio?
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.