Ohio FOP union president pens ironic op-ed opposing Constitutional Carry while expressing newfound love for Ohio CHL law

Benjamin Franklin once made the observation that "in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” It is clear that the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) labor union did not exist in Franklin's day, or the Founding Father would no-doubt have added a third certainty:

FOP opposition to Ohioans' Constitutional right to bear arms

The latest example comes in the form of a guest op-ed written by FOP President Gary Wolske and published in the Columbus Dispatch:

Ohio lawmakers are working to remove the licensing and training requirement for people to carry a concealed weapon.

Some call it “constitutional carry,” and assert that the Second Amendment is all that’s needed for citizens to take a hidden gun out in public.

The reality is a bit more nuanced than that.

When the delegates met at Philadelphia during the sweltering summer of 1787, the task before the Constitutional Convention was almost insurmountable.

How, in the face of the revolution just fought, could a coalition of states unite and govern nationally when individual freedom and state sovereignty were paramount?

First, they cast the widest possible net for individual freedom.

They attached a Bill of Rights, which didn’t lay out the rights given to citizens by the government, but rather reiterated the rights that belong to the people. The understanding was that the government must act in a way respectful of freedom and liberty.

Second, delegates sought to limit national government power to certain defined areas like foreign policy and national defense.

Third, the framers of the Constitution – and the states they represented – agreed to compromise. This is no minor point.

Fast forward back to modern day.

Ohio’s concealed carry law is a prime example of modern-day legislators following the example of the founders. It’s a clear nod to individual freedom, embedded in the gun rights of the Second Amendment as well as similar protections in the Ohio Constitution.

But it also takes seriously the government’s responsibility for public safety and, in that equation, it’s the ever-present compromise.

Under current law, to conceal carry a gun in Ohio, citizens need a permit, which includes taking several hours of training.

People who receive a permit have responsibilities, like alerting police to the presence of a weapon during a traffic stop. The law has worked well.

The barrier to getting a permit is low, but public safety is preserved.

The system was negotiated carefully between gun rights advocates and organizations like the one I lead, which represent police and public safety. That collaborative process was good government at work.

Compromise is as extinct as the dinosaurs under Senate Bill 215.

The irony of an FOP spokesperson singing the praises of Ohio's concealed carry law as a means of arguing against Constitutional Carry could not be more profound, given that the FOP began opposing efforts to pass concealed carry in the Buckeye State way back in 1995.

In 2002, House Bill 274, a concealed carry bill which had been worked on for the past two years, died at the end of session in part due to the FOP's unwillingness to lend support.

In 2003, the FOP refused to support HB12, the bill which eventually became Ohio's first concealed carry law, even after legislators amended it to address their every concern.

In 2008 the FOP opposed Senate Bill 184, the bill which brought Castle Doctrine to Ohio.

In 2010, the FOP opposed SB 239, our first attempt at allowing concealed handgun license (CHL) -holders their right to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, and getting rid of the egregious rules for carrying concealed in a motor vehicle which were forced into the original concealed carry law. A spokesperson claimed such a law would allow licensees to "drive around twirling guns on their finger" and require those going to restaurants to have "designated shooters." They continued to opposed these measures in the bill that eventually became law in 2011 via SB 17.

In 2012, the FOP opposed HB495, which made reciprocity with other states' concealed carry laws automatic, removed the requirement that CHL-holders seek recurrent training, and fixed the definition of a "loaded gun" to match the commonly accepted definition. A spokesperson claimed concealed handgun license-holders are hoping to mount quick-draw holsters on their dashboards (specifically suggesting that it would be law enforcement officers who would be the target of the "quick draw").

In 2013 the FOP opposed HB 203, our first attempt at removing the "duty to retreat" from Ohio's self-defense law, and proposed the idea that legislators should strip from local Boards of Education the ability to arm staff to protect students

In 2014 the FOP opposed SB 338, which contained language eventually folded into another bill, and changed Ohio's law to recognize other states' concealed carry laws even if they do not have reciprocity agreements.

In 2017 the FOP opposed HB 201, which sought to bring Constitutional Carry to Ohio, HB 142, which would have removed the requirement that CHLs "promptly" inform law enforcement that they are licensed and carrying a concealed handgun, and HB 233, which intended to allow concealed carry in the state's many so-called "no-guns" victim zones.

In 2018 the FOP opposed HB 228, which shifted the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the person claiming self-defense back to the state, strengthened Ohio's statewide preemption of local gun control laws, and corrected the state's definition of "shotgun" to align with federal law.

Now in 2021, the FOP is opposing two Constitutional Carry bills which have already been passed by their respective chambers - HB 227, passed by the House on a 60-32 vote, and SB 215, passed 23-8 in the Senate. They have also voiced opposition to HB 89, a bill which seeks to remove the CHL's duty to "promptly" inform law enforcement that they are licensed and carrying a concealed handgun.

Somehow, after all of their efforts to oppose the restoration or improvement of Ohio gun owners' rights over the better part of three decades, the FOP are now arguing that our current state concealed carry licensure law, which they OPPOSED, is perfectly crafted, and a reason not to make our law even better.

That's what makes this op-ed so profoundly ironic.

The facts about our Constitutional Carry bills, submitted by BFA Exec. Dir. Dean Rieck as a follow-up commentary to Wolske's op-ed, are these:

There is no credible evidence that permitless concealed carry increases violent crime. Ohio and 33 other states already allow permitless open carry, while permitless concealed carry is legal in 21 states. None of these states have had any issues.

Permitless carry will NOT allow criminals to carry guns. Those who are currently prohibited from buying, owning, and possessing guns will continue to be prohibited.

Permitless carry will NOT change use-of-force laws. The standard for defense of self or others is relatively uniform throughout the United States. This standard will NOT change.

Notification to police will be clarified, NOT eliminated. Currently, the law says you must "promptly" notify law enforcement that you're carrying. But no one knows what "promptly" means. The proposed law will be that police just ask if you're carrying if they want to know. All confusion is eliminated.

Police do NOT oppose permitless carry. Only the police unions do. The FOP in particular routinely opposes pro Second Amendment legislation.

Further, a 30-year study of all 50 states by the American College of Surgeons found "... no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicides or other violent crime."

The single overriding question that every reader of Wolske's op-ed should ask themselves is this:

With a decades-long history of being proven WRONG in their predictions about what would happen if our legislation became law, why would a single law-maker listen to them this time?

In fact, I'd like to propose a new marketing slogan for this law enforcement officer's labor union:

Ohio FOP: Ignorant of the facts and wrong about our predictions since 1995.*

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

*I'd claim copyright, but somehow I doubt they'll want to steal it.

Related Article:

When Gun Rights advocacy and "Back the Blue" efforts collide

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.


Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.