Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Whatever happened to concerns about patrons carrying guns in bars...?"

by Chad D. Baus

The Cleveland Plain Dealer publishes a weekly column entitled "Whatever happened to . . .?", updating some of the most newsworthy and interesting local stories covered in that newspaper.

On Sunday, May 27, they tackled the following question:

Whatever happened to concerns about patrons carrying guns in bars after Ohio legislators adopted a new law last year?

Hmmm...yeah, what did happen with the wild predictions made by opponents, such as the following?:

  • John Gilchrist, legislative counsel for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police - "The association believes that allowing guns in barrooms, stadiums, taverns, restaurants and other businesses that sell alcohol will result in more gun violence."
  • John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association - "On balance, we believe that this bill will most certainly result in more tragedies, rather than less, resulting in the killing and injuring of more innocent people than will be saved by permitting the carrying of concealed and loaded firearms in bars and restaurants."
  • Mark Drum, legislative chairman for the state branch of the Fraternal Order of Police - "Even if (permit holders) are not drunk, it's not a good idea to mix alcohol and guns."
  • Toby Hoover, who fronts what often appears to be a one-woman show at the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence - "I am sure those who want to do this will claim they will never drink and they won't when they are carrying their guns. But people who carry guns everyday say they will never misuse them, and they do. And then there's always the fact that someone next to them can even take their gun and use it."

According to The Plain Dealer, despite opponents of the law claiming bars would take on a "wild West" atmosphere if patrons could arm themselves, there has been no noticeable change since implementation of the law last September.

"I haven't heard anything about it since then," said Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, which opposed the law.

Jim Irvine of the Buckeye Firearms Association, which supported the measure, said he never considered the law very controversial because of the many states that already allowed guns in bars.

"We did not expect any great change and that's really what we've seen," he said. "It's much ado about nothing."

For her part, even Toby Hoover admits her predictions have failed to come true, but seems to be hoping that they will, if we wait just a little bit longer:

"It hasn't been long enough to come to any conclusions on it for sure," said Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

...Statistics from the Cleveland Police Department don't provide much clarity.

From Oct. 1, 2011 -- the day after the law took effect -- until April 1, 2012, there were four felony assaults involving a gun in Cleveland at a bar or liquor establishment, according to the department's crime analysis unit.

There were six such incidents over that same time span a year earlier when the law was not in effect.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office does not keep statistics on gun incidents in bars or restaurants. Maria Russo, a spokeswoman for the office, said statistics are kept based on the crime committed, and there isn't a specific statute that deals with gun violence in a bar or restaurant.

The fact is, and as the preceding points out, there have always been guns in bars. Quite obviously, the fact that at least some of them are now in the possession of law-abiding citizens has not increased the violence, as the opponents predicted.

They were wrong on concealed carry. They were wrong on statewide preemption. They were wrong on Castle Doctrine. They were wrong on restaurant carry. They were wrong, which is why legislators can feel comfortable ignoring their inevitable sky-is-falling rhetoric about Representative Terry Johnson's (R-McDermott) HB495.

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

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