Self-Defense Advocates Call on Legislature to Act in Wake of Ohio Supreme Court Ruling

SEPTEMBER 24, 2003

Group says majority opinion reads like “Jim Crow”

Self-defense Advocates Plan “Visual Display” of Supreme Court Ruling Sunday

CLEVELAND - The Ohio Supreme Court’s split-decision to overturn rulings from two lower courts, which unanimously agreed that Ohio’s ban on carrying a concealed firearm is unconstitutional, highlights the necessity for legislative action.

OFCC, Ohio’s largest grassroots organization focused solely on restoring Ohioans’ right to bear arms for self-defense joined the lawsuit on behalf of its statewide membership.

The law in question subjects law-abiding citizens carrying a firearm for self-defense to arrest, prosecution and the burden of proving their innocence in court, rather than the burden being placed on the State. As Justice O'Connor pointed out in her dissent, current law "is as offensive as a statute allowing the arrest of anyone who speaks in public, but permitting the speaker to prove at trial that the speech was constitutionally protected.”

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Pfeifer, relied heavily on two early 1900’s Supreme Court rulings, including State v. Hogan (1900) and State v. Nieto (1920).

In State v. Hogan, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld (in dicta) a prohibition against carrying dangerous weapons by “tramps”.

Pfeifer somehow equated lawful concealed carry to "the annoyance and terror and danger of its citizens" referred to in Hogan, which also stated that the Ohio Bill of Rights “was never intended as a warrant for vicious persons to carry weapons with which to terrorize others.”

In State v. Nieto, dissenting Justice Wanamaker noted that Ohio’s prohibition on carrying a concealed firearm was founded in racism:

"I desire to give some special attention to some of the authorities cited, supreme court decisions from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and one or two inferior court decisions from New York, which are given in support of the doctrines upheld by this court. The southern states have very largely furnished the precedents. It is only necessary to observe that the race issue there has extremely intensified a decisive purpose to entirely disarm the negro, and this policy is evident upon reading the opinions."

Nieto, a Hispanic, was convicted of “concealing” a firearm in his bed.

“The opinion is a marvelous tour de force of judicial activism. Adopting a myopic view of the statutes in question, the court avoided the interplay of issues raised in the lower courts, ignored the ‘strict scrutiny’ standard of constitutional rights, ignored the two-pronged precedent of constitutionality established in Benjamin v. Columbus, and ignored any obligation to address any findings of inconsistency within the current law,” said Chad Baus, spokesperson for Ohioans For Concealed Carry (OFCC). “Judge Pfeifer writes in essence, ‘That's the way it's always been, so that's the way it'll be. But if the legislature had written the statutes otherwise, then that would've been okay too.’”

"While Plessy v. Ferguson or the Jim Crow laws were viewed as well reasoned at the time, we have since, as a society, rejected such racism and bigotry," said OFCC PAC Chairman Jim Irvine. "Yet Ohio’s 144-year old concealed weapons prohibition has been upheld by the Court."

"This ruling will force those who disagree with us to face a reality they never imagined," said Jeff Garvas, OFCC President. "The Court has essentially given the legislature a choice – open carry or concealed carry."

On September 28, proponents of concealed carry reform will strap on their handguns, and march up and down the streets of north Cincinnati. The “Defense Walk” will offer Ohioans a visual display of the choice they have before them – openly armed citizens as dictated by current law, or a more subtle variety as suggested in House Bill 12. The Walk will start at 1 p.m. on Florida Avenue with a safety meeting. Other “Defense Walks” may follow in other cities.

Ohio is one of only five states that do not have a legal mechanism for law-abiding adults to carry a firearm for self-defense. The bill that left the Ohio House exceeded restrictions adopted by every state surrounding Ohio, yet the Ohio Senate continued that trend. No legislative body in the nation has enacted the extensive restrictions Governor Taft secretly convinced the Ohio Senate to add in HB12.

In her dissent, Justice O'Connor stated that the method of balance between the Ohio Revised Code and Constitution “must be determined by the legislature”. Unfortunately, the Ohio Senate’s Republican leadership has chosen to obstruct this issue and delegate that responsibility to the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Governor.

According to a report released Monday, as each month passes, the political obstruction imposed by the Ohio Senate and Governor Taft are responsible for approximately 3 murders, 18 rapes, 29 robberies, and as many as 96 aggravated assaults. University of Georgia Professor David Mustard used raw FBI data from nearly 20 years of crime reports when comprising the report, which is available at

It is incumbent upon Ohio Senate President Doug White to stop his obstruction of House Bill 12, appoint conferees, and send a bill to Gov. Taft's desk.

To join Ohioans For Concealed Carry, go to, or call 1-866-OHIO-CCW.

Click here to download this release in a .pdf file.

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