Columbus-area open carry 'Defense' Walk ''couldn't have gone better''

They forgot the red carpet. But Gahanna's mayor and police chief had pretty much everything else covered for the 100+ Walkers who came to town Sunday for their open carry demonstration.

Here is a quick summary from Walk Organizer Gerard Valentino:

"Although 'official' numbers showed 111 walkers, the actual number including some spouses and children was closer to 125.
Along the route, several cars honked and gave a thumbs up or yelled words of encouragement.

Several people walked without firearms, there were young and more seasoned walkers, men and woman, two dogs and one baby stroller, so we had a diverse representation. There was even a surprise arrival. Co-organizer Bob Maroldy arranged for an aerial display of support by having a bright yellow plane circle the area pulling a banner with a slogan 'SUPPORT YOUR RIGHT FOR SELF-DEFENSE'. It was a nice touch and added that little something extra to the event.

Our walk was the lead story on Channel 4 news at 6 p.m. and they fairly portrayed our message.

I can not thank the walkers and supporters enough for turning out and showing Columbus what we already know. That law abiding gun owners are friendly, helpful and determined to fight for our fundamental rights."

Co-organizer Bob Maroldy added that the "Gahanna [police department] was WONDERFUL and even took over parking duties for us."

Maroldy said he's interested in walking in and organizing future Walks. "I feel it's important to keep this snowballing and not let it die. The legislators likely think that if they wait we will just 'dry up and blow away.' If you don't exercise, your muscles will atrophy; If we don't exercise our rights they will become unusable...."

Listed below are links to post-Walk media coverage:

NBC 4 Columbus: Group Wants Ability To Carry Concealed Weapons

Suburban News Publications: Handgun carriers walked the streets to show support

Columbus ThisWeek: Gun parade

Columbus Dispatch: Protesters openly carry guns in bid to carry concealed ones

PRO-WEAPONS WALK
Protesters openly carry guns in bid to carry concealed ones
Monday, October 13, 2003
Encarnacion Pyle
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

With a revolver at his hip, a pistol on his back and an ammunition belt around his waist, Marshall Dyson strutted through Gahanna like a cowboy at a showdown.

Surrounded by other gunslingers under a blazing sun, he took a shot at his target — Ohio’s 144-year-old ban on concealed weapons.

"We’re not gun-toting nuts looking for a shootout," said Dyson, 45, a Groveport computer consultant. "We just want a return to the good old days when you could protect yourself and what you believed in."

More than 100 people — most openly wearing handguns — marched a half-mile from Veterans Memorial Park to Shell Street in support of relaxing the state’s concealed-weapons law. Some pushed babies in strollers. Others walked dogs.

Police Chief Dennis Murphy watched over the demonstrators, as police officers walked, biked and drove the short route past the Creekside Grill, Gahanna Pizza Plus and Town and Country Furniture. Several motorists honked in support. A few waved.

Dyson, who is an instructor for the National Rifle Association, said he turned up for the "defense walk" with a classic wood-handled Colt .45-caliber revolver and modern Glock 9 mm pistol to exercise his First and Second Amendment rights.

"I don’t wear these as a badge of honor," he said. "I wear them because we have rights in this country, and we stick up for them."

Robert Maroldy, 60, of Gahanna, and Gerard Valentino, 30, of Pickerington, organized the event to sway public opinion.

"We’re one of only five states that doesn’t have a concealed weapons law," Valentino said. "It’s worked for them, why not us?"

The Ohio House passed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons once they are trained and licensed. The Senate has yet to appoint a committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. Gov. Bob Taft has said he will veto any proposal that isn’t backed by law-enforcement groups.

Guy Fisher, 41, of Canal Winchester, said he’s disappointed by the Senate’s footdragging.

"I let my concealed-weapons permit from Florida expire last month because I thought I’d be getting one here," Fisher said, a .380-caliber handgun and 9 mm pistol draped across his shoulder.

The owner of a Columbus computer store, he often carries one of his guns concealed when depositing money at the bank. "I’m guilty of breaking the law, but the feeling of security it gives me is worth the risk."

Richard Berry, 42, of Groveport, agreed that it’s all about peace of mind.

"Crime is out of control," he said. "What about the out-of-state robber that shot the poor senior citizen at McDonald’s recently? We have to do something to deter the thugs."

A father of five and decorated veteran, Berry said although he has three firearms, he won’t break the law and carry any of them hidden until the law changes.

"For now I have a dog," he said, patting the head of his German shepherd, Sheba.

Stuart Ensign, 65, of Utica, has never owned a gun. But he said it took carrying a concealed weapon years ago for his now 85-year-old mother to get a group of gang members to stop terrorizing her. She waved the gun whenever the teens came near her home and carried it hidden in her purse when she went out.

"It’s not right that she had to expose herself to being convicted of a felony just to go out and get groceries."

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