Senate hears from plenty of ''Good Guys'', too

Much has been said about the excellent testimony offered in the Senate this week by pro-self-defense women (even, surprisingly, in the media). But there was also important testimony offered by the “good guys”.

On Tuesday, May 20, testimony was offered that addressed several important elements in the debate on HB12:

• Rick Kaleda testified in favor of HB12, as a husband, father, and an employee who commutes 55 miles through two high crime urban areas to work each day (he is also OFCC member and Mahoning County Coordinator). Kaleda’s testimony focused on the proposed parking lot ban, and how it would affect individuals like himself. In response to a suggestion made last week by Sen. Stivers 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, he would be forced to walk 1 mile to work (while defenseless, of course).

• Lewis Williams, a certified NRA instructor with multiple classifications, and a CCW license- holder who can legally carry a firearm for self-defense in 24 states, also offered testimony in support of HB12. Williams said his job as a professional engineer requires him to travel into high-crime areas, sometimes in the middle of the night. I can defend himself in 24 states, said Williams, “but not in Ohio.” Senator Austria asked Williams how HB12 compared to the other states’ laws, and Williams replied that it was “one of the most severe”. Austria said “by severe you mean...?” “Restrictive. Difficult.” Williams responded.

• Curt Winzenreid offered proponent testimony for HB12, as president of the Second Amendment Club at Ohio University. Winzenreid emplored upon Senators not to create additional “victim” zones in HB12, pointing out that college students are often the target of violent crime. He said students at Ohio University are forced to walk an average of 800 yards from their car to their dorm, and cited the serial rapists at Ohio State, and a rape just last week at his own Ohio University, as evidence that criminals target campuses. Finally, he contrasted two recent campus shootings. At Case Western Reserve University, an attacker forced an entire building full of defenseless persons to cower in hiding, and it took police over seven hours to end the event. Howver, at Appalacian Law School in Virginia, Winzenreid pointed out, when an attacker began shooting at students, two students ran to their cars and obtained their firearms. They returned to campus and stopped the attack. Winzenreid urged Senators to extend the right of self-defense to students on college campuses, saying it makes no sense to isolate a large group of people, and announce to criminals that they are unarmed. But he said that because some is better than none, they should pass HB12 either way.

• Dr. Timothy M. Billups, MD, FACEP, submitted written testimony in support of HB12. He testified as a "residency trained, Board Certified Emergency Medicine physician" with "nine years of clinical experience in several Emergency Departments in the Cleveland and Akron areas", and as a Florida license-holder, a husband and father. Dr. Billups noted that, through work, he faces violence and the threat of violence daily. "The level of violence that is perpetrated against the medical community, nurses, doctors and other hospital staff is outrageous," Dr. Billups told Senators. He also refuted CDC and AMA claims that guns in the home are “health risks”, noting that the numbers of accidental deaths with firearms has fallen to the "lowest point in years", giving credit to the NRA's Eddie Eagle program for this decline. Finally, Dr. Billups expressed concern about proposed ban of firearms in parking lots, noting that he has many collegues who work in an inner-city Detroit ER, all of whom have obtained carry licenses there to protect them to and from the hospital, "because of the drug addiction and level of violence found in some of our patients." He called on the Senate to recognize Ohioans' right to self-defense.

On Wednesday, May 21, testimony was again offered that addressed several important elements in the debate on HB12:

• Steve Nelson, a person who in involved with the People’s Rights Organization in Ohio, testified on his own behalf. Nelson did an excellent job of answering some of the opponent’s claims made thus far in testimony. To the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s concern about private property rights for businesses, Nelson said the bill, as written, stikes the proper balance between the private property rights of both employers and employees, since HB12 allows businesses to prohibit firearms in their building, while also respecting the right of the employee to travel to and from work while protected. Nelson also refuted a claim made in opponent testimony by Toby Hoover, of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, that HB12 would force a sheriff to issue a license to someone who qualifies, but whom the sheriff knows personally is not in a proper mental condition to CCW. He cited the portion of the bill which provides the sheriff discretion, and provides the applicant recourse with a court of review. Next, Nelson told Senators it is important to note that the CWRU shooting incident happened in a non-concealed carry state, and that it is ludicrous for the Million Mom March or Brady Campaign to claim that HB12 in any way would have encouraged that event, or other such events. In closing, he provided an excellent example of why the Ohio Highway Patrol’s suggestion that when under attack, someone could “just drive away”, is not common sense: In a car accident, Nelson pointed out, Ohio law does not permit persons involved to leave the scene. So if a person was attacked, OHP Capt. John Born’s advice to “just drive away”, becomes advice to commit one, or possibly several, crimes.

• Dave LaCourse, formerly of the Second Amendment Foundation and himself a previous victim of random violence in a parking lot, threw a 1-2 combination of knock-out punches (or was it carpet-bombing?) to HB12’s law-enforcement opponents. LaCourse informed Senators that in his former job with the Second Amendment Foundation, he was intimately involved with the concealed carry lawsuit in Hamilton County, and that he was very familiar with law enforcement’s testimony in that trial. He said, in the trial and while under oath (and in the attempt to prove that Ohio’s affirmative defense structure works), Highway Patrol officers testified that they routinely stop people who are found to be carrying a firearm ready at hand, and let them go. But in the debate over HB12, LaCourse noted, representatives from the exact same law enforcement groups act as opponents, and claim that guns in cars present a safety issue. “Either they lied in the trial, or they are lying to you,” LaCourse stated. He told Senators that these groups want to gut the bill, that they know preventing self-defense in cars does that, which is the only reason they oppose it – not because they truly have safety concerns. He suggested this is the same motive behind attempts to remove the “parking lot exemption”. Next, LaCourse dropped another bombshell. During oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court, Justice Evelyn Stratton and others suggested that Ohio law allowing for open carry is a viable option for persons wishing to defend themselves. Immediately following the hearing, LaCourse called Columbus Police Department, explained what he had just heard several Supreme Court Justices say, and asked them to verify that if he were to carrying openly in downtown Columbus, Columbus Police would not bother him. After putting him on hold, the officer returned to the phone, and told LaCourse that while the law technically reads that way, that in practice if a citizen carries openly, they would anticipate a phone call, followed by a large police response to the scene, followed by the armed citizen being arrested for inducing panic. Chairman Steve Austria asked “are you telling us not to wait on the Ohio Supreme Court before acting on HB12?” “Yes,” LaCourse said. “We’re 4-0 with judges who have heard this case." If legislators wait for the Ohio Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of current concealed carry laws, they face the possibility that Ohioans will be allowed to carry weapons without regulation.

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