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A rare agreement with the anti-gun folks: Ted Diadiun
Updated Apr 4, 10:49 AM; Posted Apr 4, 9:40 AM
CLEVELAND -- In January 2004, the Ohio legislature bestowed upon Ohioans a freedom that the framers of the U.S. Constitution thought they had guaranteed all citizens, no matter the state, 217 years earlier: the right to own and carry a gun, concealed or otherwise.
Prior to that, the ability to have a firearm out in the open was not at issue here (although it was and still is in some states). Open carry was already legal in Ohio without a permit. But if your weapon was concealed, you were breaking the law, Constitution or no Constitution.
That changed in 2004, when Ohio joined several states which had already rediscovered the “right” to concealed-carry. All the rest of the states have since become similarly enlightened, at least in some form.
Unlike in some other states, the Ohio law was accompanied by some responsibilities on the part of potential carriers: They first had to obtain a license, after submitting to a background check, undergoing a class that explained the many state laws governing firearms and the definition of self-defense, passing a test to prove they knew the law, and demonstrating at a firing range that they could handle and shoot a handgun.
Those caveats notwithstanding, the new law kicked off a firestorm of protest that has not abated. In fact, the outcry has only expanded with ever more fury, as legislators have occasionally removed limitations and roadblocks to citizens’ right to protect themselves.
This news organization, wrongly I think, has opposed the right to carry every step of the way – this news organization even going so far, in the first couple of years after the law was enacted, as to publish the names of every person in Cuyahoga and surrounding counties who received a concealed-carry license.
All along the legal odyssey, our editorial board has enthusiastically joined the anti-gun brigade, trotting out the usual tired objections: Legislators are running scared from the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby; they’re carrying water for the gun manufacturers; the United States has more gun deaths than anywhere in the world, and this will add to it.
My disagreement with that, and with other arguments against concealed-carry licenses, has always been based on common sense rather than the Constitution, and is quite simply stated:
The people who obey the law – the ones who go to the trouble of applying for a license, paying for a class, taking a test, and proving to an instructor that you can handle a gun – are not the ones we have to worry about. They’re the ones we want to be around if trouble breaks out.
The ones we have to worry about are the people who don’t care about obeying the law. They will carry around a gun, and use it, whether it’s legal or not. That’s why they’re called criminals. Concealed-carry licenses mean nothing to them.
Remember all the caterwauling when the Ohio legislature made it legal to carry inside a bar or tavern? I don’t know about you, but if I’m in a bar and some hoodlum shows up with mayhem on his mind, I want to have a trained concealed carrier (who respects the law that prevents him from drinking while carrying) sitting right next to me.
Having said all that, I now have to admit that I’ve recently signed on with the anti-gunners.
On one issue, at least.
Working its way through the Ohio House is a bill, sponsored by a couple of downstate Republicans – Tom Brinkman of the Cincinnati area and Ron Hood of Ashville – and supported by 27 other GOP legislators, that would end the license requirement for people wishing to legally carry a concealed weapon.
House Bill 174 would also vacate the responsibility to inform law enforcement officers during traffic stops that one has a concealed weapon, and would expand the range of legally concealed weapons from only handguns to longer firearms like rifles and shotguns.
It’s known as the constitutional carry bill, and it’s a little hard to defeat with a purely constitutional argument. The Second Amendment says nothing about permits and instructional classes, after all. Ohio would become the 17th state to pass such a bill.
But it’s not difficult at all to make the common-sense case, as we did in an editorial on Wednesday.
The undisputed fact is that guns are dangerous. and, in the hands of someone who is well-meaning but doesn’t know what he or she is doing, they can be deadly.
There is no sensible case I can think of that would argue against making sure that before anyone starts carrying a gun around, they receive some training. It does not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights in any way to try to make sure that they are not a danger to themselves or others.
Obviously, eight hours of training and two hours on a range is no substitute for the kind of experience law officers get, but even a small amount of training is better than none.
Vacating that requirement would be irresponsible.
In fact, I’d go even farther than that: I’d be fine with a law that required anyone purchasing a firearm to have had at least the amount of training that concealed-carry licensees now get.
It would not impact anyone’s right to bear arms. And I’d be a lot more confident that the guy sitting next to me in the bar would shoot the bad guy, and not me.
Ted Diadiun is a member of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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