Insisting on 'Carjacker Protection': What does Bob Taft have against children?

A bill recognizing Ohioans' right to self-defense is on hold (again), due to the actions of Gov. Bob Taft, a few bureaucrats in the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and a few enablers in the Senate.

One of the main issues preventing a compromise is Taft/OSHP-sponsored language that would require people in vehicles with minor occupants to lock up their firearms. This Senate amendment has quickly become known as Taft's "Carjacker Protection" provision.

The most disgraceful part of the "Carjacker Protection" provision is that it is something that no anti-self-defense extremist demanded. Nor was the "Carjacker Protection" provision inserted to win any Senator's crucial vote. Rather, it was inserted only at the insistence of Gov. Taft and the OSHP.

At first they argued that a carry-in-a-car ban was necessary to protect the lives of law enforcement officers. But when we told Senators about a study by University of Georgia professor David Mustard, published in the Journal of Law and Economics, they were forced to change their tune. Mustard's study deals with the issue of risks to police from concealed handgun laws. His research indicated that concealed carry laws are the only gun laws associated with reduced police fatalities.

In order to promote their anti-self-defense agenda and convince Senators to adopt the amended language, Taft/OSHP resorted in an old, familiar trick: they claimed they're trying to save the kids.

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Doing it for the kids

Senate leaders quickly jumped on board with Taft's save-the-kids excuse. Steve Austria, who chaired the committee which added Taft's "Carjacker Protection" provision in the Senate, testified on the floor that the language was necessary to protect children from accidents. "...Of all the changes made by the Senate, as a father, I am most proud of the work we did to ensure the safety of Ohio children under this bill." Senate President Doug White said "the bill as passed by the Senate gives law-abiding citizens the opportunity to protect themselves by carrying a concealed weapon, while protecting the best interests and safety of all Ohioans."

Just what do these leaders, Bob Taft, and the OSHP have against innocent children? We don't really think they intentionally wanted to further endanger kids, but their actions make it hard not to wonder.

As amended, HB12 would create a situation in which vehicles with children could be profiled by criminals for attack, aware that the adult occupants of those vehicles are rendered defenseless by Ohio law. Precedent for this type of profiling exists in Florida, where tourists where singled out by criminals because that state's concealed carry law excluded them from the right to self-defense that Floridians enjoy.

The Taft Effect: How the "Carjacker Protection" provision will endanger Ohioans

Neither Taft, the OSHP, or the Senate has provided anecdotal evidence to back up their claims of protecting lives by banning self-defense in a vehicle when children are present. Yet, a great deal of anecdotal evidence is available to prove the fact that this amendment was a very bad idea.

The following examples beg the question: What would have happened to these kids had Taft been governor when their families were attacked?:

The News, Birmingham, AL

Nevelyn Akins of Birmingham, Ala., was about to drive her 4-year-old daughter to a nearby restaurant when a man jumped into her car. He grabbed the little girl around the neck and threatened to kill her if Akins didn't drive him where he wanted. Cautiously slipping a .38-cal. revolver from her purse, Akins drove until she was ordered to stop. When the kidnapper tried to pull the child into the back seat, Akins fired, hitting him in the arm. She fired again as the man tried to wrestle the gun from her, and killed him with a shot to the chest.

The News-Sentinel, Knoxville, TN

As Linda Woodward put her child into the car at a Knoxville, Tenn., service station, three men accosted her. One man demanded she surrender her car keys, then stabbed her in the side with a knife when she refused. Despite the injury, Woodward continued to struggle with the bandits, and, when she was able to withdraw a pistol from her purse, they took off running.

The Northwest Arkansas Gazette, Fayetteville, AR

A young father driving with his two small children was forced to halt by three men blocking a road near Wheeler, Ark. One of the trio proceeded to kick in a window while the others grabbed the father and began beating him. He nevertheless was able to grab a .22 cal. firearm from his car and used it to fend off the attackers, wounding one.

The Eagle, Dothan, AL

Buckling his three-year-old daughter into a child restraint seat, Dothan, Alabama, resident William Kenneth Long was approached by three masked thugs demanding money. With the barrel of a .38 jabbed into his back, the young father turned around, and instead of handing over his wallet, delivered a single shot into the head of the armed bandit, killing him. The other punks fled the scene and were later arrested.

In each of these cases, the adult occupants of these vehicles would have been prevented, under amended HB12, from defending these endangered children. In Ohio, it is entirely possible that each and everyone of these children (not to mention the adults who protected them) would have been injured or killed.

It's the facts, stupid

When commenting on Taft's "Carjacker Protection" provision, economist and research John Lott pointed out that "no other right-to-carry state has any remotely similar provisions on carrying guns in cars. I know of not one single case where a child in a car has been accidentally shot or shot someone else with a permit holder's gun. For that matter, I can't even think of a case where a child has been accidentally shot to death by a gun held by a permit holder. It is possible, but I would like them to point to one case." (emphasis added)

The Senate's Republican leadership has fallen into a clever trap, by adopting restrictive language designed to prevent a problem that does not exist anywhere in the nation. In his latest book, "The Bias Against Guns", John Lott proves that, nationally, the number of accidental gun deaths in recent years involving children under ten either accidentally shooting themselves or other children under ten is consistently fewer than ten per year. This should surprise no one familiar with firearms, Lott observes, since few children are strong enough to cock a pistol, let alone know how to.

In addition, says Lott, "few gun-owning Americans are in danger of accidentaly shooting someone", since "accidental shooters are overwhelmingly adult males with long histories of arrests for violent crimes, alcoholism, suspended or revolked drivers licenses, and involvement in automobile crashes."

In light of the compelling evidence presented above, is it any wonder the House of Representatives voted 94-5 against concurrence with the Senate's dangerous amendments?

Yet because of the lack of political leadership in the Ohio Senate, or in the Governor's office, the fate of Ohioans who want to exercise their constitutional right to self-defense lies at the feet of OSHP Superintendent Col. Paul D. McClellan.

"I spent hours begging for a compelling reason [for their insistence on amended language] from the Highway Patrol. They have none," Rep. Jim Aslanides (the bill's sponsor) said.

The Winds of Change

In his 2003 State of the State address, Gov. Taft told Ohioans he wanted to promote policy which would aid in the protection of 'our most vulnerable populations'. Certainly, children who are the victims of violent attack would qualify under that category. So why is Taft is fighting against such protections for defenseless innocents?

Bob Taft's pencheant for chasing the left is nothing new. Not unlike a national politician from recent memory, Taft sees support from the "middle" as crucial to winning at the polls. But if Taft's motivation for opposing true concealed carry reform is political, he's barking up the wrong tree:

Poll: 9-11 attacks and D.C. snipers trigger soccer mom support for self-defense Women need to defend themselves

Police officer implores Senators: let my wife protect our kids

Letter to the Editor: Statistics don’t support Highway Patrol’s fear of CCW

Squeezing the "reform" out of concealed carry reform

Many of the other amendments adopted by the Senate will also result in reduced impact on crime and/or additional harm to Ohioans:

• The right of a law-abiding citizen to choose to carry a firearm for self-defense, without a license, when they believe they are in danger, has been stripped from all but the fraction of citizens who have been granted a restraining order.

• Day-cares were added to the list of "victim zones" defined by HB12:

--->''Victim Zone'' exclusions are BAD for law-abiding Ohio citizens

--->Vehicles outside Delaware-area day cares targeted by robber

On a higher moral plain?: the Law Enforcement Double-Standard:

Ohio's state trooper bureaucracy has told legislators, time and again, that the common citizens cannot be trusted to carry a firearm.

Yet in a stunning contradiction, they argued in court in favor of the affirmative defense law which they just demanded be destroyed in the Senate.

All this political wrangling seems a bit hollow, and finger-pointing at the worst of citizens who misuse firearms hypocrytical, considering the fact that the Ohio State Highway Patrol (and other law enforcement) has a few bad apples among their own:

Can Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers be trusted with their firearms?

Letter to the Editor: "Cops gone bad"

At the end of the day, the truth is as we reported it months and months ago: The burden of proof rests squarely on the OHP/ Taft's shoulders, and they will NEVER be able to deliver.

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