Ohio CHL-holder defends life when ambushed in broad daylight

Several media outlets are reporting that police are looking for a man who attempted the ambush-style robbery of a Concealed Handgun License-holder in broad daylight Tuesday in Lancaster. Instead of receiving the $7,000 his victim was carrying in anticipation of purchasing some construction equipment, the robber was instead on the receiving end of his intended victim's .38 caliber revolver.

From the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette:

Nathan R. Zeger, 27, of Galion, was meeting an individual to purchase a Bobcat around 3:50 p.m. Tuesday in the quarry in the 800 block of South Ewing Street, according to a Lancaster Police report.

As Zeger approached a white male dressed in black, another male wearing a black ski mask approached from Zeger's left and told Zeger to get down while pointing a black handgun at him.

Zeger dropped to the ground and pulled his .38 caliber handgun and shot six times at the male in the ski mask. The man in the ski mask fired three shots at Zeger in the exchange, according to the report.

Zeger has an Ohio Concealed Carry Weapon license. Zeger was not injured in the incident. The police report did not specify whether the man in the ski mask was injured in the exchange.

According to the story, Zeger fled the quarry to South Ewing Street, where he was when Lancaster Police Detective E.L. Eggleston arrived at the scene.

The police report notes that Zeger said he saw a black Nissan-type vehicle with an Ohio temporary tag on the rear leaving "at a high rate of speed".

In its coverage of the ambush-style robbery, Columbus' NBC affiliate quotes Lancaster police Sgt. Mike Peters as saying "there was a verbal agreement of $7,000 cash for the Bobcat and the (customer) showed up with the cash and found out it was actually a robbery -- ambush."

NBC also reports that both robbers may have fired at Zegers, who emptied his primary gun and fired a back-up gun at least once.

"He was in fear for his life. He felt that he was going to be shot and killed and he actually did pull his gun and shot several times at the robber," Peters told NBC.

NBC reports that while no arrests have been made, a man being treated for a gunshot wound at The Ohio State University Medical Center is a suspect.

According to comments posted by an Eagle-Gazette reader, two television news stations have reported that the CHL-holder had responded to a newspaper ad [UPDATE: the ad was posted in both the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette and Mansfield News Journal] listing the construction equipment. It appears once again that enterprising criminals may have utilized another newspaper to select their intended victim, just as a another as an armed robber once used the Cleveland Plain Dealer, or as a rapist once used the Akron Beacon-Journal to lure his victim, or as gun thieves once used the Internet to pre-plan an Ohio gun store burglary, or as Canadian MP Garry Brietkreuz has said Canadian criminals are using the country's multi-billion dollar gun registry debacle to target potential burglary victims.

When it was first passed in 2004, Ohio's concealed carry law contained a media access loophole, inserted by Governor Taft as an 11th hour poison pill. At the time, legislators in Ohio were warned that newspapers would abuse the law and publish entire lists of CHL-holders. They were also warned that such lists could then be exploited by criminals wishing to steal firearms, and that instances of criminals targeting particular locations they know to contain specific valuables (such as firearms), and staking out or casing residences to make sure no one is home, are common and well documented. But few listened...

The Akron Beacon-Journal called this warning a "flimsy presumption", and Gannett News Columbus Bureau Chief Jim Siegel said warnings about the dangers of publishing the list of CHL-holders "elevate these criminals to a level of sophistication they very likely do not possess..." Even then-Attorney General Jim Petro called such a scenario "a stretch".

In 2006, the Ohio General Assembly amended state law to prevent journalists from obtaining entire lists of CHL-holders and publishing them, as some media outlets had been doing. Although the Ohio Newspaper Association had been negotiating in bad faith and intended to circumvent the reforms, the Ohio Attorney General quickly put that threat to rest by issuing an opinion reiterating that a new state law does not allow journalists to copy the confidential, non-public information of CHL-holders by any means.

As this latest example in Hocking County shows, pro-gun lobbyists and legislators were absolutely right in the steps taken to prevent gun owners' homes from being targeted by burglars due to their names being published in the newspaper. And who knows...had Mr. Zeger's name been among those published, it's possible his enterprising attackers would have known they needed to shoot him before they tried to take his hard-earned money.

A complete list of known incidents involving Ohio CHL-holders defending themselves is available here.

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

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