Op-Ed: Law-abiding citizens don't commit crimes

The following guest op-ed appeared in The Chillicothe Gazette on April 22, 2010.

By Mike McCoy

When Ohio's original legislation allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun passed in 2004, there were dire predictions by the anti-gun crowd that there would be shootouts in the streets or worse.

Fast forward six years, and guess what? None of it happened.

How could the anti-gun crowd have been so wrong? The answer is very simple and yet very important.

The answer is that concealed carry licensees are law-abiding citizens, and law-abiding citizens don't commit crimes. Criminals commit crimes! I know that this shouldn't be earth-shattering news to anyone, but it is to the anti-gun crowd.

Another well-kept secret is that criminals don't even try to obtain a concealed carry license. Does anyone really think that criminals will go through a thorough background check by the sheriff and take the required course covering gun safety and the law? The answer is no.

When concealed carry laws are passed, violent crime goes down. That occurs because the criminals can no longer count on everyone being an unarmed victim. As more law-abiding citizens start carrying a handgun, the criminal's risk of being shot by their intended victim increases, and therefore the number of violent crimes decreases. The criminals that aren't smart enough to learn this lesson often pay a high price for their stupidity.

In just the past couple of weeks, concealed carry licensees in Ohio have used handguns at least three times to save innocent lives. In all three cases -- two in Toledo and one in Columbus -- innocent lives were saved thanks to citizens who accepted the responsibility of legally carrying a concealed handgun.

Finally, I'd like to discuss the changes that need to be made to Ohio's concealed carry law.

Concealed carry licensees should be allowed to carry their handguns in restaurants that serve alcohol. It's ridiculous to think that a person's constitutional right to self-defense ends at the restaurant door. Law-abiding citizens have been killed in restaurants that serve alcohol because their guns were locked in their cars due to these arcane laws. The changes needed to fix these problems are contained in bills that are currently in the Ohio House and Senate, and both of these bills specify that a citizen can only exercise this right if they are not consuming alcohol.

Once again, the anti-gun crowd is predicting shootouts in restaurants that serve alcohol, and once again they are wrong. Restaurant carry already is allowed in more than 40 states, including every state surrounding Ohio, and there simply haven't been shootouts.

Another change should be made in Ohio's current law regarding vehicle carry is unnecessarily complex and cumbersome, which leads to the very real risk that law-abiding citizens can be charged with a crime for a technical violation of these complex laws. Most other states have much simpler laws concerning vehicle carry, and once again, these states haven't experienced any problems.

If you aren't one of the 200,000 Ohioans who is licensed to carry a handgun, now is a great time to get your license.

Mike McCoy is a Chillicothe resident.

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