CAUTION: Erroneous media reports on Ohio Castle Doctrine implementation

The Cincinnati Enquirer has published a poorly-worded and erroneous article about the implementation of Ohio's Castle Doctrine bill, Senate Bill 184, and the Associated Press wire service has picked up the story and replicated a significant error at news outlets across the state and beyond.

From the original Enquirer story, by Jennifer Baker:

Changes take effect Monday that will make it easier for people to carry concealed firearms and clear confusion over parts of the four-year-old law.

Some significant changes:

People can wear a concealed holstered weapon in cars. The "plain sight" requirement was removed.

It is true that the law was intended to clear confusion, but media reports like this are not going to help.

The 'plain sight' car carry requirement was addressed two years ago, in House Bill 347, and concealed handgun license-holders have been able to conceal a loaded, holstered handgun in a motor vehicle since that time.

Despite the fact that this exact issue was debated ad nauseum in the anti-gun media at the time, the Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, the Associated Press, and every news outlet which has picked up the AP story have falsely reported that the change has just occurred via SB184.

The story also reports that SB184 goes into effect on September 8. However, in its final analysis of the legislation the Ohio's Legislative Services Commission (LSC) indicates that the bill will go into effect on September 9. Confusion over the effective date may be due to a September 8 date reported by the Ohio Attorney General's website.

In its coverage, the Dayton Daily News uses the LSC date, just as Buckeye Firearms Association has been using. From the DDN story:

For years, gun rights advocates have stressed to lawmakers the importance of protecting the home, sometimes with even deadly force.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 9, those defenders will get the benefit of the doubt. As part of several concealed carry law updates scheduled to take effect, Ohio will adopt a version of the Castle Doctrine, which states that a person using force against an intruder in the home or car is presumed to have acted in self-defense.

Gun rights advocates say the law is a long time coming, while prosecutors are concerned that the trying of such cases will be more difficult.

..."Right now, if someone breaks into your house tonight and waves a knife at you and you shoot them, you have to prove their intent," said Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, a state gun rights advocacy group.

"They're saying, 'Was their intent to sell you knives, or to kill you? Well, prove it.' That's what is going to change," Irvine said.

Unfortunately, the Associated Press picked up the erroneous Cincinnati Enquirer story, and began its coverage like this:

Concealed weapons permit holders can now keep a gun hidden in a car as long as they're carrying it in a secure holster, one of several changes to Ohio's conceal carry law taking effect Monday.

The law previously required the gun to be in plain sight.

Media outlets that have published the erroneous Cincinnati Enquirer / Associated Press story include the Akron Beacon-Journal, Canton Repository, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, Coshocton Tribune, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, Fremont News-Messenger, The Hamilton Journal-News, The Huntington (WV) Herald Dispatch, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, Mansfield News-Journal, MSNBC, The New Philadelphia Times-Reporter, The Ohio News Network, The Path FM, Port Clinton News-Herald, The (Ravenna, OH) Record-Publisher, The Sidney Daily News, The Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune, The Warren Tribune Chronicle, WBNS (Columbus CBS), WCHS (Charleston-Huntington, WV ABC), WCLT (100.3 FM Newark), WCMH (Columbus NBC), WCPO (Cincinnati ABC), WDTN (Dayton NBC), WEWS (Cleveland ABC), WFMD TV (Mansfield), WHIO (AM 1290 and 95.7 FM Dayton), WIMA (1150 AM Lima), WJW (Cleveland FOX), WKYC (Cleveland-Akron NBC), WLW (700AM Cincinnati), WLWT (Cincinnati NBC), WNWO (Toledo NBC), WSYX (Columbus ABC), WTAP (Parkersburg-Marietta NBC/FOX), WTOL (Toledo CBS), WUPW (Toledo FOX), WYTV (Youngstown ABC), Xenia Gazette, and The Youngstown Vindicator (to name but a few).

UPDATE September 8, 2:30 p.m. - The responsible Associated Press writer, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, has contacted Buckeye Firearms Association about our request for a correction.

UPDATE September 10, 2:15 p.m. - A correction has been issued by the Associated Press. In addition, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Jennifer Baker, from whose story which this error originated, has also notified Buckeye Firearms Association that that newspaper published a correction today. Will the news outlets above (and the hundreds of others not listed) republish the corrected story? Additionally, will they revise the earlier, incorrect versions that are still now preserved across the Internet? Not likely. Instead, the erroneous stories will be preserved forever, without any notice that there was ever a correction.

From the Associated Press:

Correction: Concealed Weapons-Changes story

Associated Press - September 10, 2008 2:05 PM ET

Corrected Version

CINCINNATI (AP) - In a September 7th story about carrying concealed weapons, The Associated Press erroneously reported the date of a change in Ohio's law. As of 2006, not this year, the law has allowed people with concealed weapons permits to keep a gun hidden in a car if the weapon is in a secure holster.

Other changes to the law took effect Tuesday, not Monday of this week.

UPDATE September 11, 1:00 p.m. - Almost 24 hours after the correction was issued, just forty links appear in a Google search of the title, verses more than 200 links to the original, erroneous AP wire story.

On a positive note, the stories contain the latest positive quotes from officials on the success of Ohio's concealed carry law. The following is from the original story, but the AP version also contained nearly verbatim language.

"I think the more law-abiding people that have guns the better off we are," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "Because the bad guys always have guns. You look at these school shootings or church shootings, the ones that have been stopped, it was because someone there had a gun."

Most county sheriffs said they have not had any trouble with concealed-carriers.

"By far, the vast majority of permit holders are law-abiding people," said Sgt. Monte Mayer, spokesman for the Butler County Sheriff's Office. "They are getting the training, doing things the way they should under state law."

...Clermont County Sheriff A. J. "Tim" Rodenberg said the changes will make the conceal-carry law easier to interpret for citizens and law enforcement.

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