Proof: Citizens deserve right to choose self-protection in parking lots

July 12, 2004
Toledo Blade

Motel resident, friend attacked in parking lot

A man who identified himself as a resident of a South Toledo motel suffered minor head injuries after he and a friend were confronted in the parking lot by a pair of armed robbers early yesterday.

The incident occurred shortly before 5 a.m. at the Best Motel, 1115 South Reynolds Rd. The victim refused medical treatment beyond that given to him at the scene by Toledo firefighters, police said.

Police said he was approached by two black men in their 20s as he walked a friend to her car in the parking lot. Both suspects appeared to be armed with handguns.

The resident and his visitor were ordered back into the man's motel room, where the two victims were pushed on the floor, punched, and kicked. The woman claimed one of the suspects took her into the bathroom and tied her up with the shower curtain, police said.

One of the suspects allegedly told the other to "finish them off." The victims stated that one of the suspects pulled a trigger, but that the gun didn't go off. A bullet found on the floor may have been from the gun. The suspects left with a cell phone and cash, police said.

On May 20, 2003, OFCC's Mahoning County Coordinator and Steering Committee member Rick Kaleda testified in a Senate committee hearing against a proposal to remove the parking lot exemption from House Bill 12, and allow businesses to prevent citizens from leaving their firearms in their cars in a parking lot.

Kaleda, a husband, father, and an employee who commutes 55 miles through two high crime urban areas to work each day, testified in favor of leaving HB12 as it was originally passed by the House. His testimony focused on the proposed parking lot ban, and how it would affect individuals like himself.

In response to a suggestion made a week earlier by Sen. Steve Stivers (who was pushing to remove the exemption) that employees who work for employers who ban in parking lots could simply “park across the street”, Kaleda explained that the nearest public parking to his employer is 1 mile away. Should his employer be allowed by the Senate to prevent him from storing his firerm in his personal vehicle in their parking lot, Kaleda told Stivers, he would be forced to walk 1 mile to work (while defenseless, of course).

Kentucky has a parking lot exemption for businesses in their CCW law, which was passed in 1996. But did the Ohio Chamber of Commerce or Ohio Manufacturer's Association think to call the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce before testifying before the Senate in opposition to this provision in HB12? Did they ask if there have been problems with liability or insurance issues, or with compliance to OSHA standards, or with ANYTHING at all to do with the Kentucky parking lot exception? NO. But we did:

Mr. Jeff Alan, Director of Legislative Education in the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, has told OFCC that they did not oppose this language when the bill was being considered. Further, he said that in the 7 years since the law was passed, they haven't had EVEN ONE report of a business having troubles with the parking lot exemption. What's more, there is no history of any litigation on the issue. Mr. Jim Ford, Director of Business Education, travels around the state to businesses large and small. He concurred with Mr. Alan.

The thing to keep in mind here is this: Kentucky's law, unlike HB12, does not give KY businesses the blanket immunity that HB12 does. So what did Ohio's business lobbyists have to fear? Nothing. Once again, we were reduced in this debate to arguing about the "what-ifs", as if there was no wealth of experience from which to answer the questions.

During Senate debate last year, OFCC told Senators that if the OCC and OMA continued to demand removal of the parking lot exemption, a provision should have been inserted so that businesses who chose to ban license-holders would also lose their civil immunity. Businesses, we told Senators, should have to face the legal consequences of rendering their customers and employees defenseless as they travel to and from that place of business.

The Senate committee, chaired by Sen. Steve Austria (seeking re-election this November), eventually ignored such prophetic testimony, and approved a Stivers-backed amendment to remove the parking lot exemption. As a result, apartment complexes, trailor parks and hotel/motels are now able to enforce bans on self-defense where Ohioans live.

Stivers, who was among a handful of Republican Senators who refused to commit to override a Taft veto of HB12 last December, was appointed to his position in 2003, and is facing his first election this November.

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