Editorials suggest coordinated (and misguided) opposition to SB239

By Chad D. Baus & Jim Irvine

In what could be viewed as an almost-sure sign that SB239 will become law in Ohio, the state's newspapers once again appear to have coordinated their editorials in opposition to the pro-self-defense bill over the weekend, just as they did with SB184 (Ohio's Castle Doctrine law), HB347 (Ohio's statewide preemption law), and HB12 (Ohio's original concealed carry law).

The typical warnings are contained in editorials from the Akron Beacon-Journal (warning the legislation is "risking unfortunate, even deadly, shooting incidents") and Middletown Journal and Hamilton Journal-News (claiming the bill's proponents are acting "with little regard for the violent and deadly consequences that these changes could have on the general population," and warning of "the injuries — and deaths — that will surely follow.")

More interesting, however, are editorials published by several Gannett-owned newspapers, which first admit Ohio's concealed carry law has worked well, before offering dire new predictions about what will happen if SB239 becomes law.

From an editorial published in The Newark Advocate and The Mansfield News-Journal, entitled "Tweaking conceal, carry increases danger":

Ohio's adoption of a concealed-carry law in 2004 created quite a stir over what's turned out to be largely unfounded concerns.

There haven't been shootouts in the streets or on freeways. Workplace violence hasn't increased because employees could carry a gun to work. Criminals who never follow gun laws ignore this one, too.

In fact, many businesses and public places now feature a small no guns sign prohibiting weapons concealed or otherwise. Not that a sign would stop a robber or someone aiming to create problems.

To us, the law has been a success thanks to its detailed nature and strict controls on when and how people can carry loaded weapons. It's found a balance between gun rights and common sense safety.

In other words, the media was flat-out, 100% wrong in their predictions about this law. Not only were the media in general proven wrong, but by publishing this editorial, the editors at The Mansfield News-Journal have admitted that their own predictions about Ohio's concealed carry law were wrong. (On January 11, 2004, the editors at The News-Journal opined that the "gun law doesn't make much sense," and warned that "even with training, nervous citizens are more likely to shoot someone by accident than prevent a crime.")

But despite having been proven wrong, The News-Journal and other papers are once again editorializing against pro-self-defense legislation - specifically SB239, which would allow citizens who hold a valid concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry a firearm in restaurants, and to reduce burdensome restrictions regarding how a license holder must transport a firearm in a car, saying "both are profoundly poor ideas earning strong opposition from law enforcement and businesses alike."

Consider too this editorial from another Gannett-owned paper, the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, entitled "Adding guns to where alcohol is served is not beneficial":

Ohio's concealed-carry law, for the most part, has been a success, with the number of permits rising sharply in the past couple of years and no real problems reported.

But again, despite having been proven wrong, Eagle-Gazette editors are mirroring their sister newspaper by editorializing against SB239, saying "we just don't see where adding more guns to an alcohol-influenced environment can be a benefit."

If the media and gun ban lobby were wrong then, why should anyone listen to them now?

The Amish are good people. They make great furniture, have wonderful restaurants and churn out an amazing array of delicious cheese. In spite of all the things the Amish are good at, it would be stupid to allow them to dictate the nation's energy policy. But as silly as that would be, it makes more sense than listening to our editorial boards about guns.

While the Amish do not have electricity in their homes, they do understand how it works and have experience using it in their businesses that cater to the general public. The majority of the editorial writers do not have a concealed carry license, do not carry a gun for self-defense, and most have no understanding of the issue. They can't. There is simply too much misinformation about such a simple product for them to have even a basic understanding of the issues.

SB239 is not revolutionary. It is evolutionary. And once again, Ohio is behind the times. More than 40 states already had concealed carry by the time Ohio finally passed its law. The success of these laws across the country was rarely mentioned in editorial boards, many of which predicted that Ohio would have "blood in the streets" as "fist fights turn into gun fights" if we allowed people to carry a gun in public. The alarmists were wrong.

Today, it is legal for concealed carry license-holders to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol in more than 40 states. In a majority of those states, it is legal to consume alcohol while carry firearms, as long as the individual is not intoxicated.

In Ohio, the proposed law is much more conservative, forbidding the license-holder from consuming any alcohol. Again the editorial boards are crying about fist fights turning into gun fights and shootings in bars. They are wrong, again.

SB239 is not reckless nor radical nor pandering to the "gun lobby." It is aligning Ohio's laws with what almost every other concealed carry state has already done. It's not changing our laws too much or too fast, it is updating our law with something that should have been done long ago.

SB239 makes law enforcement safer. When a gun is left in a car while a license-holder eats, that gun is more likely to be stolen. Because criminals can't buy guns, the preferred method of obtaining them is to steal them. When police are pulling over a stolen car, it complicates the situation if the criminal got a gun as a bonus when he stole the car. There is no reason to endanger officer's lives.

Just as we were right when we told the media that Ohio could implement a safe, effect concealed carry law, we are right now in saying that allowing license-holders to bear arms for self-defense in restaurants, and removing silly restrictions for carrying in a motor vehicle, will not bring any "violent and deadly consequences" to the general public.

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