Police chiefs argue against gun ban; judges rely on anti-gun info from Supremes
By Chad D. Baus
The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reported last week that police chiefs from Lorain County are trying to persuade the 10 judges who work at the Lorain County Justice Center to lift a ban on officers carrying their firearms inside the courthouse.
When the county judges (many of whom are now no longer serving at the courthouse) made the decision three years ago to enforce the ban, the newspaper reports they were relying on misleading information provided to them by the Ohio Supreme Court to make their security decisions.
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From the story:
- Security at the county Justice Center is “not airtight” and could be increased if police officers were allowed to carry their duty weapons inside, Amherst Police Chief Lonnie Dillon told the county’s judges Thursday.
Dillon joined police chiefs from Avon and Avon Lake in trying to persuade the 10 judges who work at the county Justice Center to lift a ban on officers carrying their firearms inside the courthouse. Dillon said the metal detectors at the justice center’s entrance aren’t enough to prevent a visitor from bringing in a weapon, but more armed officers might.
“There are lots of weapons that can be brought in that aren’t metal,” he said. “I think it would enhance the feeling of a secure atmosphere where people will be less inclined to bring those weapons.”
Sheriff’s deputies assigned to courthouse security are the only ones currently allowed to carry firearms in the justice center. Other police officers have to check their guns at the door but are allowed to keep their Tasers, pepper spray, batons and knives.
When the justice center opened three years ago, the Chronicle-Telegram reports that the judges on the bench implemented the ban after drawing on security recommendations from the Ohio Supreme Court that advised allowing just officers working security to be armed.
Again from the story:
- The Supreme Court recommendations cite studies showing that there is a greater likelihood of violence the more weapons are present.
Since the ban was passed, half of the judges who were on the bench at the time have left office and Presiding Judge Mark Betleski granted the county’s chiefs another chance to make their pitch.
A new vote won’t take place until late June, so the judges have a chance to read more about the Supreme Court studies and hear comments from Sheriff Phil Stammitti, who oversees courthouse security but could not attend the meeting, Betleski said.
The newspaper reports that Sheriff Stammitti has come out in support of lifting the ban.
Newly elected Judge James Burge told the newspaper his main concern is that having more guns would just give a criminal more opportunity to grab one.
- “I think that’s what our concern is — that some civilian will take the gun and use it,” he said.
Avon Lake Police Chief David Owad said the issue is more about keeping everyone safe.
“Our interest is maintaining a higher level of security,” he said. “We want them to be able to respond with the proper tools.”
The truth is that the same principles these law enforcement officials are applying to the argument for lifting the ban on officers carrying their firearms in the courthouse can be applied to every 'no-guns' victim zone in the state of Ohio. When the time comes for testimony on legislation that would lift these unsafe gun bans in other victim zones across the state, it is my hope that these same law enforcement officials are standing front and center to advocate for the increased security that law-abiding CHL-holders provide.
UPDATE: Murder Suspect Goes For Gun In [Fairfield, OH] Court
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