Dayton city attorney and newspaper writer struggle to comprehend gun laws written in plain English

By Jim Irvine

Confusion, incompetence or continued intentional denial of rights under Ohio law? It's hard to tell sometimes when looking at the media-driven debate over carrying guns.

Ohio's concealed carry law is terrible in some respects, but when it comes to areas most often challenged by cities, it's not hard figuring out who is right. It's so simple a cave man could do it - but to not a city lawyer or a reporter for the Dayton Daily News.

A recent DDN story, "Handgun allowed in Englewood parks, pocket knife may be confiscated" looks at the "debate" that continues years after the state legislature passed a very simple and easy to understand law. In actuality, it is not really any more of a debate than a child screaming "I want that" to a parent.

It is a temper tantrum. It may be loud, and annoying and expensive and even laughable if you are not too close to it, but there is no "debate" on something that has already been clearly decided. Cities may not regulate the carry of firearms. Period. As Don Henley said, "Get over it!"

The story's headline is designed to create confusion and interest. It is accurate. It is also confusing, because legislators (state and local) enact laws that make no sense. Ohio citizens can get a "concealed handgun license" (CHL) under state law. Unlike Florida where it is a "weapons" license, Ohio CHLs only applies to handguns, not knives or other defensive tools. So while I may carry a gun legally, the pocket knife I carried as a second grader may be a crime. Local governments that don't like the state law on guns (or the people who carry them) can harass citizens by prosecuting them under local knife laws.

Kent Maynard was detained by Englewood police for open carry of a firearm. Englewood has since changed their firearm laws, but refused to apologize to Maynard, who has sued the city over his detainment and treatment.

The reporter could have reported the facts, but seems more interested in presenting "both sides" of the story. A quick read of O.R.C. 9.68 (DDN Staff Writer Doug Page's story is three times longer than the actual code) makes clear that the city is wrong. But that would mean a gun owner is right, and is unacceptable the DDN.

From the story:

The concealed-carry law statutes are general laws under the state Supreme Court decisions. But open carry is not, it maintains, and nowhere in the law are there regulations guiding its enforcement.

"The only thing R.C. 9.68 does is to create a vacuum of uncertainty as to the open carrying of firearms in Ohio and to threaten Ohio municipalities with the payment of attorneys' fees if they dare to remedy the oversight," the city argues in its response to the lawsuit.

In a brief filed in the case, Attorney General Richard Cordray argued against the city, saying the law is "constitutional in all respects" and "a valid general law of the state of Ohio."

Attorney General Cordray is right. A "vacuum of uncertainty?" There is a lot of uncertainty in state laws, but not on this one. ORC 9.68 states:

The individual right to keep and bear arms, being a fundamental individual right that predates the United States Constitution and Ohio Constitution, and being a constitutionally protected right in every part of Ohio, the general assembly finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state regulating the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, or other transfer of firearms, their components, and their ammunition. Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of
a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.

And:

The possession, transporting, or carrying of firearms, their components, or their ammunition include, but are not limited to, the possession, transporting, or carrying, openly or concealed on a person's person or concealed ready at hand, of firearms, their components, or their ammunition.

(Emphasis added)

There is no debate. The law is clear and easy to understand. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled it is constitutional. Firearms laws are uniform throughout Ohio. Cities may not restrict your right to carry a gun. But just like a common criminal, city leaders can violate the law. If they do, it will cost money. It's up to voters if it costs them their job. Elections matter.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman, and the host of Firearms Forum, Ohio's first talk radio show about guns and gun rights.


Buckeye Firearms Foundation has sued the city of Cleveland and Mayor Jackson to force them to follow the law. It is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop prosecutions of law-abiding gun owners. Your support is needed to defeat Cleveland and other rogue cities.

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