Fourth House hearing on Restaurant/ Car Carry rules fixes brings more 'Chicken Little' claims from opponents

by Chad D. Baus

On Tuesday, March 1, the House Committee on State Government and Elections, which is chaired by BFA "A" -rated Rep. Bob Mecklenborg, held a fourth hearing on HB45, sponsored by Representatives Danny Bubp (R-West Union) and Terry Johnson (R-McDermott).

From the Gongwer News Service:

Michael Weinman, government affairs director for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, outlined the organization's opposition, faulting several provisions or claims. While testimony has centered on restaurants, he said the bill would allow concealed weapons at "sporting events, bars and gentlemen's clubs." Some states have made legal distinctions between restaurants and bars, such as minimum age limits or a 9 p.m. curfew for guns in an establishment. While the bill prohibits armed permit holders from drinking, "This prohibition is unenforceable" since there are no test provisions as there are for drunken driving," he said.

Mr. Weinman continued that police have at least 24 hours of firearms proficiency training yearly compared to two hours over six years for concealed weapons permit holders. The training involves a "shoot, don't shoot" experience coupled with how to deal with hostile weapons in a public place and if in a confrontation. "Allowing people to carry concealed firearms where alcohol is served is dangerous," he said, as he contradicted testimony that only six states prohibit guns in a restaurant serving alcohol. He said 24 states have the prohibition.

Rep. Lundy wondered if weapons-bearing patrons might be helpful. Mr. Weinman indicated such was not the case. A policeman just arriving "must determine who the good guy is, who the bad guy is," and may not be able to do so immediately. After he declared the proposed carry change "will not make society safer" and outlined other problems with it, Rep. Patmon noted he was from Cleveland, and said, "What you said revolves in my mind. Thank you. Thank you for what you said."

It is worth noting that Ohio Fraternal Order of Police president Jay McDonald recently admitted he wasn't 100 percent clear on all of the details in the gun laws being addressed in the Statehouse - but that his organization formally opposes at least one of the measures none-the-less.

As Buckeye Firearms Association legislative Chair Ken Hanson points out, Michael Weinman is the professional/paid lobbyist for the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP is a union that represents sworn police officers and is funded through union dues deducted from wages paid to police officers (i.e. funded by your tax dollars.) Neither the labor union leadership nor the members are directly accountable to voters. The FOP opposed HB45, according to Weinman, because concealed handgun license-holders are hoping to mount quick-draw holsters on their dashboards (specifically suggesting that it would be law enforcement officers who would be the target of the "quick draw"). Previous testimony from the FOP on SB239 in the last session claimed such a law would allow licensees to drive around twirling guns on their finger and require those going to restaurants to have "designated shooters."

The FOP has also testified that police officers should be allowed to drink in restaurants and/or while consuming because they are "better trained," "better decision makers," and have received weapons retention training. But as Hanson notes, "there isn't any training in OPOTC training curriculum about how to carry while intoxicated, no training on carrying concealed and no explanation of how a person would get into a situation where there would be a 'gun snatch' when the gun is concealed."

Last week opponent testimony from John Gilchrist, the professional/paid lobbyist for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), was sharply questioned by legislators, and Gilcrest failed to produce data to back up his claims that license-holders are widely guilty of committing crimes. This week, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence's Toby Hoover tried her hand at providing statistics, repeatedly citing a highly flawed "study" by the radical gun ban extremists group Violence Policy Center.

Again, from Gongwer:

Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said the organization opposes the bill and its companion, SB17, that would allow guns in public places frequented by children. Ms. Hoover came laden with statistics she said refute various other claims that have been made. For example, she said one survey claimed guns are used defensively 2.5 million times a year, a figure she said was obtained by multiplying 66 responses to questions asked of 5,000 persons in a survey. "Since May of 2007, there have been 288 people, including nine law enforcement officers, killed by people holding permits to carry concealed handguns.

Ms. Hoover cited 11 deaths in Ohio alone, including one police officer. She said less than 3% of eligible adults have "permits to carry loaded, hidden weapons in public. The rest of us, the other 97%, expect and deserve not to be intimidated by their extreme position."

She also testified the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld gun ownership under the Second Amendment but, "It is not the right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose." It protects gun ownership in homes for protection and the right to regulate the purchase, possession and carrying of guns, she said.

When asked by a committee member where her statistics come from, Toby replied "from the newspapers". One of the representatives replied, just loud enough for everyone to hear, "that's a reliable source."

Even if we were to accept the claim that 288 people have been killed by concealed handgun license-holders nationwide since May 2007 (and we are NOT, and this is why), that is fewer people than have been killed by airbags (290), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And it is about HALF the number of people whose lives were documented to have been saved by CHL holders during that same time period (550).

During the fight to pass Ohio's original concealed carry law, Toby Hoover brought the same prophesies of death and destruction should the legislature allow concealed carry. What she did not do then, and cannot do now, is point to evidence that these same problems are happening in other states whose laws have already been modernized.

Once again, from Gongwer:

Susan Reis of the National Council of Jewish Women, Cleveland section, recommended the committee "defer to the Ohio Restaurant Association...for guidance on the issue....Its members see no reason to bring concealed weapons into their establishments." She said, "The most important how can the law be enforced?" No one in a place can a tell who's carrying a concealed weapon so there would be no way to determine if a permit holder was complying by refusing service or enforcing no-drinking requirements. She argued that more guns cause more violence.

Like the other opponents, Reis faield to explain why none of her fears are being demonstrated in other states, such as Indiana, where license-holders may not only carry in a bar, but may consume alcohol as well.

Buckeye Firearms Association looks forward to addressing these concerns in a committee hearing, and will be there to testify when this legislation is scheduled for a committee vote.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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