Teens terrorized by gang of gun-toting thugs on 'no-guns' COTA bus

by Chad D. Baus

10TV in Columbus is reporting that three teen-aged girls were terrorized on a Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) bus ride home from the Jazz and Rib Festival.

As has been reported on this website for several years, COTA, which illegally posts its busses with "no-guns signs", has had ongoing problems with violence, and in 2009 announced a plan which included asking people to submit to searches of their bags and person, and also "using police dogs to increase security."

Even those types of extreme measures are not working, and it clearly past time to allow COTA passengers the right to defend themselves. From the article:

April Merritt said that she happened to call her daughter while the incident was taking place on Sunday night, 10TV's Chuck Strickler reported.

Tayrika Israel, Ayana Kirk and Roneisha Brown said that older men started trouble when they entered a COTA bus.

"At first, it was cool, I knew one of the guys, sitting there chilling until the dude started saying he was going to shoot our families and stuff," Kirk said.

Merritt said that she asked her daughter to stay on the phone during the incident.

At some point during the bus ride, police said COTA called them about three people making trouble on the bus, one with a gun.

The girls exited the bus and then heard shots fired.

"We heard the shots," Kirk said. "We thought for a minute the bus had run over something, but we in fact did hear the shots, not knowing they were shots. We did not see him put the gun out the window."

The three men exited the bus around East Main Street and Broadleigh Road on the east side, Strickler reported.

Police said one ran away and a gun fell out of his pants while he was running. He was taken into custody and two men were questioned.

COTA planned to investigate to see what exactly happened.

Ohio Revised Code prohibits concealed carry in most buildings owned by the state or a political subdivision. However, the ORC does NOT prohibit license-holders on property outside the building itself, nor does it prohibit license-holders from traveling on city busses. Policies or signs posted to the contrary are a violation of the intent of the General Assembly, and put innocent people at risk.

In 2004, then-State Senator Randy Gardner inquired with then-Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro's office on the subject of city busses. Sen. Gardner's office advised as follows:

"The AG's office is under the belief that public busses are not exempted and that local ordinances can't override state law."

Earlier this year, we reported that, after six years, the Toledo Area Regional Transportation Agency (TARTA), which had also placed 'no-guns' signs on its busses upon passage of Ohio's concealed carry law, agreed to modify TARTA's policy, and change TARTA's "passenger code of conduct" to allow lawful concealed carry on its busses. It is high time COTA and the rest of the state transit authorities do the same.

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

Related Articles:
After shooting outside "no-guns" 5/3 bank, criminal hops "no-guns" COTA bus

Disarmed CHL-holder endures robbery and assault at COTA bus stop

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