Op Ed: Ohioans have right to carry firearms

On Monday, February 17, the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum printed a opinion editorial from OFCC PAC Vice Chairman Chad Baus. Click on the "Read More..." link below to read the letter.

Tuesday's ruling by Seneca County Common Pleas Judge Michael Kelbley that Ohio's ban on carrying a concealed weapon to protect themselves is unconstitutional, is the third major victory for the law-abiding citizens of our state.

The ruling follows on the heels of similar findings from Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman, and the First District Court of Appeals rulings in 2002.

In his decision, Judge Kelbley correctly ruled that the law violated Article 1, Section 4 of the Ohio Constitution, which states, "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security..." Judge Kelbley ruled that "the statute deprives Ohio citizens of an effective means of self-defense. An innocent person is subject, under the statute, to prosecution for a felony... In other words, she is presumed guilty unless she can somehow prove herself innocent." The First District Court of Appeals found that this reality deprives Ohioans their right to due process and equal protection under the law.

In the 43 other states in which some form of concealed carry is allowed, the facts are irrefuteable -- crime never increases, and more commonly goes down sharply when concealed carry laws are reformed. Our Michigan neighbors are the latest to find a reduction in crime as a result of their passage of a concealed carry law. Ohioans are no less responsible than the residents of these other states.

Similar lawsuits are being brought in other Ohio counties, and the ban faces the likelihood of an eventual Supreme Court defeat.

It is time now for our Ohio legislature to recognize what has been true all along -- Ohioans have a constitutional right to self-defense that includes the right to carry a firearm. Every day that Ohio's Republican leadership waits to pass concealed carry reform increases the defenseless victim list in our state, and forces otherwise law-abiding citizens into making a choice between facing felony arrest or being unable to defend themselves. This simply should not be.

Chad D. Baus
Archbold, OH

(Chad Baus is the northwest Ohio coordinator for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, and the vice chairman of OFCC PAC.)

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