Pro-Gun Punditry: Wednesday's Buckeye State Roundabout

There are more stories pertaining to our gun rights in Ohio then we can possibly draw attention to with individual daily commentary. But they are worthy of mention.

What follows is our weekly review of headlines from around the state though a pro-gun rights lens.

Thursday in Cleveland: Officer accused of stealing guns

    A lieutenant with Cleveland's Public Utilities police force was arrested Tuesday after it was discovered that 25 of the department's guns were missing. Keith J. Tait, 43, was held on suspicion of felony theft of firearms. The case will be presented to a Cuyahoga County grand jury. "Right now, we don't feel that the guns were sold on the streets of Cleveland or anywhere else," said Chief William Tell, who heads the utilities police department and is a former Cleveland police commander. "We think they were sold to pawn shops." Officers are working to recover the 9 mm handguns, which are used by the 55-member armed security force that guards Cleveland's water plants throughout the region, said Cleveland police Lt. Thomas Stacho. Tait worked with police departments in Highland Heights and Richmond Heights before coming to the utilities force, Stacho said.

Look no further for proof that if gun controllers get their way to have all private gun ownership banned, the black market in firearms for criminals will continue to find ways to thrive.

Thursday in Cleveland: Happy couple raise issues in newsroom

    Anyone who has lived in Northeast Ohio for even a short time knows who Sherrod Brown is. And anyone who reads The Plain Dealer is familiar with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz. Not everyone knows the two are married. As a rule, it matters very little whom a politician or a journalist chooses as a spouse. But every rule has an exception, and the Schultz-Brown union is one of them. Their marriage presents us with an ongoing set of challenges. Connie writes an opinion column for our feature section. Though she doesn't write about politics, per se, she does write regularly about social-justice issues. By any definition, she's a liberal. Her husband is one of the House's most liberal Democrats and fights for the same kinds of issues Connie frequently takes on in her column. Some critics are bothered by that and believe either that Connie is promoting Sherrod Brown's agenda or Sherrod is influencing hers - an unlikely scenario to anyone who knows Connie. Others wonder how we can be impartial in our coverage of the congressman while his wife, the star columnist, is so big a part of the Plain Dealer identity. On the other hand, Brown has complained that our coverage of him as been excessively critical, that we've bent over backward to overcome charges of favoritism. It's an uncomfortable place for a newspaper to be. That place became infinitely more uncomfortable when Congressman Brown announced that he would challenge Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in the 2006 election. But first, he'll face a primary battle with Paul Hackett, a promising young Democrat who gained national prominence by nearly beating Cincinnati Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in what was supposedly a super-safe Republican House district. All of which means we'll be covering Connie's husband as never before, and the Brown-Schultz marriage will go from - for us - a sometimes ouchy, low-visibility venture to one that is likely to become increasingly painful.

Can't say it much better leave than PD letter-writer Tom Johnson's response on Saturday, so let's leave it to him: "Doug Clifton needn't fret over what Plain Dealer readers will think about a media conflict arising from the marriage of columnist Connie Schultz to liberal Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown. Plain Dealer readers have known for years that your reporters and editors are in bed with the liberals."

Friday in Akron: Hunter Bags Buck Wearing Mophead

    A northwest Ohio hunter bagged a buck with an unusual accessory during the state's recent deer-gun season. The state Division of Wildlife has dubbed it the "mophead buck," because the animal had a string mop tangled in its antlers. Officials say the Holmes County hunter who scored the deer mentioned that it had been seen near a local landfill before the season began and may have picked up the cleaning gear there. The division says the mophead buck sported 12 points under its headgear.

After she told him to cut his mop, his mama probably also told him not to stay out too late on opening day...

Saturday in Cleveland: Eight candidates, so far, enter race to lead Ohio Democrats

    Candidates are vying feverishly for victory. Landing endorsements. Issuing policy platforms. Shaking hands. Even fashioning get-out-the-vote plans. No, they are not running for public office - though it may look like it. They are contenders in the normally sleepy selection of the next Ohio Democratic Party chairman.....As of Friday, the announced candidates were: Lieberman; former U.S. Rep. Dennis Eckert; Athens County Democratic Chairwoman Susan Gwinn; former state party Executive Director Bill DeMora; Eric County Democratic Chairman David Giese; Jane Mitakides of Montgomery County; Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune; and Ohio House Minority Leader Chris Redfern of Catawba Island. Many consider Redfern the front-runner, in part because he has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, the leading Democratic candidate for governor. But other candidates are still campaigning vigorously - behind the scenes and out front. Gwinn issued two news releases Friday, one noting three new endorsements, including one from Ohio NOW President Susan Bader; the other laying out her plan for involving more women in the party if elected. "I think people know we may be fighting for the life of the party," she said, noting that only 10 percent of respondents to a recent Zogby poll believed the Democratic Party was organized. "I think one of the things we need to do to change their minds is bring a new look," she said. "One of the ways to do that is to have a woman as chair."

Wouldn't it be better to actually have a plan to BE organized, rather than to look it?

Saturday in Columbus: Police set up squad to combat robbers

    The second "strike force" formed this year by Columbus police is focusing on reducing robberies, which are up by 12 percent from last year. City police were notified of about 390 more robberies from January to November this year than in the same period last year. "It’s pretty significant," Sgt. Shaun Laird said. "With each of those is a victim." The Police Division has budgeted $60,000 in overtime pay for the force of one sergeant and 10 officers. In July, police employees worked overtime on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for six weeks to try to curb violent crimes. That strike-force effort cost $500,000 and resulted in the arrest of 292 people on misdemeanor and felony offenses, Assistant Public Safety Director Barb Seckler said. The strike forces are effective because they put more officers in an area to solve a particular crime pattern, Seckler said. In going after robbers, police also will be preventing other crimes, she said. "A lot of times people will burglarize, rob and possibly kill," Seckler said. Police officials declined to say what the officers will be doing or where the officers will be concentrated, except that they will focus on areas in which robberies happen frequently. Among the more recent robberies include three in and near German Village in September and October. Gunmen entered unlocked homes and forced residents to disrobe before binding them and taking their cars, cash and valuables. Last month on the North Side, robbers targeted the Latino community in an area bounded roughly by Morse Road, I-71, E. Dublin-Granville Road and Westerville Road. Some suspects have been arrested, but more arrests are expected, Laird said. The robbery strike force will operate for about a month.

The civilian concealed handgun license program offers its own version of a robbery prevention strike force, and thankfully, it won't be ending next month.

Saturday in Toledo: Woman abducted from mall lot, raped

    A 40-year-old woman was raped after being kidnapped from a parking lot of the area's largest mall late Thursday night, leaving some women concerned for their safety during this busy holiday season. The victim parked near the Toys R Us next to Westfield Franklin Park and was walking toward Dillard's when a large, dark van pulled in front of her about 9 p.m., said Toledo police Sgt. George Kral. The suspect, who was described as a white male wearing a ski mask, forced the woman into the vehicle and drove her to an unknown location, where he physically and sexually assaulted her. He then drove her back to the mall about 30 minutes after the kidnapping, and then sped away, Sergeant Kral said. The woman was treated at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center for bruises, cuts, and scrapes. The assault was similar to the abduction and rape of a woman Oct. 13, 2003, also at Westfield. A then-41-year-old woman was abducted from a mall parking lot about 9 p.m., driven to a nearby gas station, and raped. She then was taken to a secluded area near City Park Avenue and the Anthony Wayne Trail, was sexually assaulted again, and robbed about 11:30 p.m. before her assailant, Lamond Johnson, then 17, fled from the car. He was caught two days later; convicted in May, 2004, and sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court to 14 years in prison for rape, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery. A mall official could not be reached for comment last night. Thursday's incident rattled a few holiday shoppers, including Marlene Chio, 54, of Petersburg, Mich., who said she thought the number of bustling holiday shoppers and potential witnesses would deter an abduction.... Sergeant Kral said that his best advice for safety while shopping after nightfall is to be aware of the surroundings, park in a lighted area, shop with a friend or a relative, and stay around as many people as possible.

Far be it for a Toledo Police Department spokesperson who is handing out "advice for safety" to remind women that they don't have to be defenseless as they go about their business in his city. He didn't, but you can! Tell a woman you care about to get her concealed handgun license today!

Saturday in Toledo: Thieves enter Toledo Zoo, take off in van with ATM

    A zoo employee was ordered at gunpoint to help load the ATM. Thieves dressed in black drove onto the Toledo Zoo grounds through a gate along Amherst Drive early yesterday and drove off with an undetermined amount of money inside a free-standing ATM they stole from the Carnivore Cafe. A 56-year-old zoo custodian, who arrived 35 minutes early for work because of concerns about the overnight snowstorm, told Toledo police he spotted the white Chevrolet panel van backed up to the cafe's front door at 4:25 a.m. "I thought it was a delivery truck," Michael Gendaszek, a 15-year zoo employee, said of the windowless van. He noted that caterers and others often come to the zoo early to set up for special morning events or meetings. "I poked my head inside [the cafe doors] and asked the guys what was going on. And there they were, stealing the ATM." Mr. Gendaszek told police that he saw one suspect on the floor by the automatic teller machine. A second suspect suddenly knocked him down, put a gun to his head, and ordered him to stay down.

The Toledo Zoo posts "no-guns" signs at the entrances to its parking facilities, enacting a defacto ban on self-defense during what are sometimes quite long-distance trips for moms and dads bringing their children to the zoo. "No-guns" signs are empty promises of safety to employees and customers, and businesses that post them should bear the full weight of liability for injuries and deaths that result from their active denial of the human right to self-defense.

Sunday in Toledo: Man shot in abdomen in Central Avenue bar

    A West Toledo man was shot once in the abdomen early yesterday in a Central Avenue bar, police said. Josuah Jacobs, 23, was taken to Toledo Hospital for treatment, police said. A hospital spokesman said she had no information on a patient by that name. Police arrived at Big Shots, 931 Central, about 2:30 a.m. and found Mr. Jacobs in the bar’s kitchen area. Witnesses told police there was a large fight inside the bar and that a man fired a shot from a 9mm handgun. The gunman fled, police said. Two unfired bullets were found in the kitchen area, and one was found in front of the dance floor. One shell casing was found behind the bar to the right of where witnesses told police the suspect was standing, police said.

Quite a weekend in "gun-free" zones in Toledo, eh?

Monday in Delphos: Teen bags 10-point buck

    With a 20-gauge shotgun and her sister’s boyfriend as a guide, one area teen hunted her first buck in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Third Annual Youth Deer-Gun Season held in November. During the two-day hunt, youth may kill one deer in accordance with existing bag and deer-zone limits. Samantha Jones, 13, of Venedocia, went hunting in Paulding County after passing a safety course and participating last year’s “Youth Hunt.” “I got up that morning and said ‘Today’s the Ohio State/Michigan game, so I’m going to go out there and get it done’,” she said...

And as the headline foreshadows, she did git 'er done! This story provides still more incentive to make plans to get a young hunter into the field, and to support Rep. Buehrer's House Bill 296, the Hunting Apprentice bill.

Tuesday from Columbus: Petro says TV ads make it two-way race

    Attorney General Jim Petro's early $1.3 million TV advertising blitz, especially the ad focusing on faith and values, has turned the race for the 2006 Republican gubernatorial nomination into a contest between Petro and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, Petro's pollster said Monday. However, Mark Weaver, a spokesman for Auditor Betty Montgomery, the third major GOP candidate for governor, disputed Petro pollster Neil Newhouse's analysis and said any boost Petro got from the TV ads was a "classic temporary spike that a candidate gets when they put television ads on and poll immediately." Newhouse said the ads have worked "extraordinarily well" and that "this has become a two-way race, rather than a three-way race." Gene Pierce, spokesman for Blackwell, said the poll shows only that Blackwell's support is "rock solid." "We took their best shot and they didn't knock us down a bit," Pierce said. The Blackwell and Montgomery campaigns plan their own TV ads, Pierce and Weaver said. Cleveland-area businessman Pete Draganic also is seeking the Republican nomination, but was not included in the poll conducted for Petro. The survey, conducted Dec. 6-7, found that Blackwell led in a three-way race with 30 percent to 25 percent for Petro and 12 percent for Montgomery, with 34 percent undecided.

While some in the OhioGOP excused Bob Taft's opposition to concealed carry reform by claiming that his party is a "big tent", the anti-gun Betty Montgomery continues to run a distant third in polls measuring a primary contest between three state-wide office-holders. Campaign speeches by Betty Montgomery over the past few years have consistently shown she is anti-self-defense, which polls consistently show to be a very unpopular position for a politician in her party to take.

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