OH GUN Group Starts Memorial For Carjack Victim, Patrol Silent
November 10, 2003
Gun Week (www.gunweek.com)
by Dave Workman
Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC)
has established a memorial fund to benefit the daughter of a carjacking victim who died, the group insists, for essentially
following the advice of the Ohio State
Highway Patrol (OSHP).
James A. "Tony" Gordon, 27, was shot
to death Aug. 6 when he tried to drive away
from a carjacking in Dayton. That's precisely what OSHP Capt. John Born advised Ohioans to do during a Feb. 16 interview with The Columbus Dispatch,
while his agency continued to oppose passage of a concealed carry statute for Buckeye State residents.
During that interview, Born stated, "We
do not want a loaded firearm readily accessible to the driver of a car... If there's a dangerous situation and you're in your car, you can drive off."
"Whether aware of it at the time or not,"
OFCC said in a statement, "Tony was doing just what the OSHP would have recommended he do in that situation. While his car was stopped for a red light ... an armed criminal approached his car and
shouted at him to get out. Tony tried to
drive away, and his attacker fired, striking him in the chest."
Offered several opportunities to respond
to the OFCC comment, Lt. Rick Fambro
instead provided Gun Week with the text
of an open letter on the agency's position
about concealed carry, signed by OSHP
Chief Col. Paul McClellan.
Gun Week had initially contacted OSHP
for an interview with McClellan, but we
were turned down. Fambro told Gun Week
to submit questions in writing. Gun Week
specifically asked OSHP to answer three
additional questions, relating to the disparity between that agency's position on
concealed carry and the position of the
Buckeye State Sheriff's Association and
Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.
Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.
In addition, OSHP was asked whether
it had a position on open carry, as apparently affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court ruling in late September, and also whether the agency has any data suggesting that legally-licensed armed citizens pose a threat to police officers.
In response, Fambro supplied the following statement:
"For the first time in recent history, the
Ohio State Highway Patrol took a neutral
stance on pending legislation which would
allow loaded handguns in motor vehicles for
qualified and trained permit holders. The
Ohio Senate version of pending legislation
to change Ohio's firearms laws. Substitute
House Bill 12 (HB-12), addressed our major
concerns in regards to officer and public
safety. With only three Ohio troopers shot
and killed in the last 70 years, we certainly
do not want to jeopardize officer safety."
"We opposed the less stringent House-
passed version of HB-12 which allowed both
permit holders (who complete training and
background checks) and non-permit holders to carry loaded guns in cars. Because the House version of HB-12 expanded current affirmative defenses, it also created a major new loophole for criminals who carry loaded guns in motor vehicles. The Senate version closed this loophole by allowing qualified permit holders to carry loaded handguns in motor vehicles while imposing serious penalties for criminals who are caught with loaded guns in motor vehicles."
"Another significant change in the Senate version of HB-12 requires permit holders who transport loaded handguns to secure the handgun in a locked compartment
or in plain sight of an officer conducting a
traffic stop. While we would prefer handguns, like rifles, to be unloaded while
transported in a motor vehicle, the Senate version is similar to current law for the transportation of rifles and shotguns.
It provides reasonable safeguards for law
enforcement officers while maintaining
the right of citizen self-defense."
"Unfortunately for a number of officers
each year in our country, concealed loaded
handguns (CCW) in vehicles prove deadly. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, Ohio's troopers put their lives on the line for the public we serve. There are few agencies in the country that interact more with motorists than the Ohio State Highway
Patrol. While public safety has been at the
forefront of HB-12 proponents' concern,
Ohio's troopers and other law enforcement
officers are on the front lines of public
safety. We hope that officer safety is placed
at the forefront of future CCW debates."
It was signed by McClellan, and appears
to have been taken directly from a statement he issued months ago during the concealed carry debate in the legislature.
Gun Week offered Fambro a second opportunity to respond, especially to the implications about the Gordon slaying, but
he offered this terse reply: "What I sent to
you is our answers to the questions that
you posed. In fact, the answers that I provided remain consistent with what we as
a Division have repeatedly stated previously and are not invalid." He did not respond to further inquiries.
OSHP has steadfastly opposed efforts by
OFCC and other pro-gun groups to push a
concealed carry law through the legislature.
Critics say it is the OSHP opposition that
has given anti-gun Republican Gov. Bob Taft
political cover for reneging on his campaign
pledge to support a concealed carry law.
Ohio is one of a handful of states that still
outlaw concealed carry. In September, the
Ohio Supreme Court overturned three
lower-court rulings that the state's existing
ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional
under the Ohio Constitution's right to bear
arms provision. That ruling left open carry
as the only option available to Ohio citizens
which groups in several cities have thus far
publicly demonstrated they are willing to do. However, at least one law enforcement
agency has indicated to Gun Week contacts
in Ohio that citizens exercising open carry
rights would be arrested.
Retired Cincinnati police Lt. Harry Thomas, a former NRA director, told Gun Week
that he has carried openly on several occasions since the Supreme Court ruling. He was told by the local sheriff's department that he would be arrested, but so far, other people seem indifferent, except for a couple who have only asked what kind of gun he carries.
Death in Dayton
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Gordon was gunned down while stopped
at a red light in Dayton, according to Chad
Baus, an OFCC activist. Gordon's 13-year-
old nephew was in the car with him, and
when he tried to drive away, the as-yet-
unidentified carjacker shot him. Gordon
managed to drive a short distance to his
home, where he stumbled to the door yelling to his father that he had been shot. He died later from wounds to his chest.
OFCC has called attention to the brutal
slaying and the irony that Gordon had reacted exactly as Born had suggested in the Feb. 16 edition of The Dispatch, and as
OSHP also recommended in an open letter
to the public that appeared on the agency's
website, which argued: "Because the fundamental nature of motor vehicles allows
those who feel threatened to simply drive
away, the argument that motorists need
loaded concealed weapons is weak."
We can't say Mr. Gordon would have chosen to carry," said OFCC spokesman Baus.
"His father especially understands how this
law could have helped his son. If the bill had been passed as Taft wants it, Tony still
wouldn't have been able to carry because his 13-year-old nephew was in the car."
Under the statute that Taft supports, legally-armed motorists would have to store
their handguns in a lock box if there is anyone in the vehicle under the age of 18 years.
"What if his nephew had been 18 years
old," Baus posed. "Would his life have been
Baus told Gun Week that his organization is frustrated because of the way the it Highway Patrol has literally blocked movement on concealed carry legislation, even though other law enforcement in the state supports the concept. The Buckeye State Sheriff's Association and Ohio Fraternal Order of Police both object to the lock box provision because of the increased amount of gun handling that would be involved, especially with a juvenile in the vehicle.
OSHP opposes the legislation without the
lock box language, using "officer safety" as
the basis for its argument. But Thomas had
a different perspective: "I think this is just
simply a power issue with them."
"Obviously," Thomas observed, "if you were
in a car out on the lone prairie somewhere,
there might be something said for (driving
away). But if you're trapped in urban traffic,
the idea of just driving away loses its appeal
and certainly somebody in the Ohio State
Patrol should have enough on the ball to know that. If you happen to be in that car with your wife and kids, retreat is also not an option. If you're not able to defend yourself in that car, you are pretty well helpless."
Baus calls Taft's lock box provision
"carjacker protection." In an OFCC statement, Baus said this provision would render self-defense firearms useless.
Educate the Troops
Thomas retired in 1995, but if he were
still on the job today, he said his first obligation to officers under his command
would be to explain what open carry is all
about, and advise them how to react.
"You've got young cops out there who
have never seen anyone carrying a gun
except a fellow law enforcement officer,"
Thomas has long been an advocate of a
"Vermont/Alaska-style" carry scenario, under which citizens have the right to carry
openly or concealed without having to obtain a license. He acknowledged, though,
that such a law may have to come incrementally, with the state first passing some type of licensing law, reasoning that "half of something is better than all of nothing."
More alarming to Thomas, though, was his
encounter with the Hamilton County Sheriff's
Department on the open carry issue.
"I called the prosecutor, because I know
the prosecutor personally," he recalled.
"We were cops together. He wasn't available but I talked to his deputy, who then called the sheriff's department. He spoke to the individual who told me that I'd be arrested for disorderly conduct or indue-
ing panic or something, and that individual denied having said it.
"This is a typical bluff by a law enforcement agency," the retired police lieutenant judged. "When push comes to shove, they
can't do a damn thing and they know it."
To make a secure online donation via our website, click on Tony's photo, or email [email protected].
Checks should be made out to the "Tony Gordon Memorial Fund" and may be deposited at any Fifth Third Bank location, mailed to: Fifth Third Bank,
5790 Springboro Pike, Dayton, OH 45449, or to Ohioans For Concealed Carry (OFCC), P.O. Box 25488 - Cleveland, Ohio 44125.