Why is the Summit Co. sheriff ''terrified''? Why is Akron's mayor ''sad''?
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander says the new concealed carry law "terrifies our people.''
"... In the worst-case scenario, a deputy walks up to a car and asks for a driver's license, and the driver says, 'Oh, by the way, I've got a gun,' and hands the gun out the window, barrel first. My God. The policeman's partner sees the gun come out of the car...''
He doesn't finish the sentence, but his point is clear: When an officer sees a gun pointed at his partner, he will open fire and ask questions later.
"I just think it's going to take the average street cop's job up to a new level of heightened awareness,'' Alexander said. "You talk about elevating the terror alert. I think we just elevated it up to orange (for police). When it goes to the next one, I'm going to Cuba.''
But according to Col. Randy Thorp of the Licking Co. sheriff's department, deputies are already trained to approach cars as if the occupants are armed. Thorp is confident the new law won't change how sheriff's deputies approach their duties on the streets.
"It's not going to change the way they handle situations. They are trained to always be observant. That won't change," Thorp said.
"The officer safety issue is how weapons will be carried and displayed and how the notification to the trooper during a traffic stop is made, and all of those issues have been addressed," says Rick Zwayer of the Ohio Highway Patrol in Columbus.
Newark Police Sgt. Brian Webster agreed, saying officers should assume they are possibly going to encounter an armed person on any traffic stop or call for service -- law or no law.
"We're a microcosm of what's going on nationally. Criminals could see it as a deterrent," Webster said.
Citizens have a constitutional right to carry concealed firearms, notes Columbiana County Sheriff Dave Smith, adding that he's not worried about law-abiding gun carriers. It's the people who don't bother with permits to pack that concern him, he said.
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Sheriff Alexander also worries about an escalation of the stakes in road rage episodes. "Instead of the old days when they just flip each other off, now we might have a running gunfight going down Route 8.''
The sheriff should look no further than Michigan to lay his road rage fears to rest. State police Lt. Diane Garrison says "my worst fears and scenarios have not played out. We have not had shoot-outs at intersections. I would have thought that some road-rage incidents would have turned into shootings. But all in all, it's gone pretty well." (Flint Journal, 12/7/03)
West Virginia law enforcement send similar comments. "A lot of people feel they have the right to carry a firearm," says Chief Deputy Charlie Johnson of the Wood County Sheriff's Department." When asked about concerns that it might lead to an increase in gun crime, Johnson says in Wood County, that hasn't been the case [in Wood Co., WV].
"In one case," he says, "the person was found not guilty in court and got his permit back. In a couple of other cases, we were justified in revoking the permit."
When a sheriff in this state is under the delusion that Communist Cuba would be a safer place for him than a state which allows law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms (especially given all the evidence there is to the contrary from the rest of the nation), residents and visitors to Summit County have a serious problem.
But it sounds like Sheriff Alexander may already have a plan for dealing with the licensees: delay their issuance.
"We're stretched to the limit right now in our staffing. I'm afraid if we don't get some sort of funding, we're going to get backlogged.''
But Stark Co. Sheriff Tim Swanson isn't nearly so pessimistic about gearing up for the licensing process. He said his staff is ready to deal with the new law and all of the paperwork. "We’ll get organized. We’ll get it down to a science."
Alexander won't be the last law enforcement officer to make these kinds of ludicrous statements, but when compared to statements made this week from other Ohio sheriffs and law enforcement officials,
their comments will always be clearly seen for what they are.
Paul Hlynsky, president of Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police in Akron, says he doesn't believe we will experience any dramatic changes. Hlynsky takes solace in the fact that Ohio is the 46th state to permit hidden guns.
"When this concept was first adopted by Florida and Texas,'' he said, "people expected gunbattles in the street like the Old West. But it has never gotten to that.''
He isn't particularly worried that street cops will be at greater risk on routine traffic stops. "Law-abiding citizens will never use a weapon against a police officer, whether they've got 10 weapons in the car or one weapon in the car.... There's no reason to panic.''
Where was this guy when OFCC was battling the FOP on HB274? Right - he was being muzzled by the union's bureaucrats, just as we told you the majority of FOP members were.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic whined, "We took guns away from the Wild, Wild West more than 100 years ago,'' he said, "and we're revisiting it. I really think it's a sad day.
"It's a real indication of the wrong direction that the state of Ohio has gone with these right-wing folks down there driving the issues. I cannot believe... the typical soccer moms in suburbia who have helped put these people in office are going to feel good when they go to the nearest Wendy's... and find a bunch of people with guns strapped to their hips.''
Mike Goschinski, owner of Fin-Feather-Fur Outfitters in Ashland has a more compassionate style of concern for soccer moms than the Akron mayor.
"I can't tell you how many times in the past 17 years I've talked to women who fear for their safety," said . "They are usually living in big cities and working second- or third-shift jobs. They will say, 'I want to be able to protect myself if something were to happen,' and the only thing I've been able to tell them is, 'Legally, you can't.' That's about to change.
"The main thing is folks are relieved they will be able to protect themselves," Goschinski said.
"This law will give the rights back to the honest, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. Those people are the backbone of this country."
Compiled using press reports from: