In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, CO this past week there have been an ubiquitous call by firearm control advocates for the either the ban on large capacity magazines, the AR-15 rifle itself, and tighter restrictions on guns in general. The most gun restrictive mayor in the county, Mayor Bloomburg of New York, is calling on President Obama and Mitt Romney to do something about it.
Here in Ohio there is no law against Open Carry. Ohio Revised Code 9.68 protects individual rights to open carry, and provide that uniform state laws regarding open carry supersede local ordinances on the ban of open or conceal carry.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath of such a tragedy where an individual decided to cause mass casualties, everyone is super-sensitive and it makes a prime political opportunity for gun control activists to try to get people to react on emotion and not reason.
After a pleasant cookout this evening, my family decided to walk to the local park. It is not far from our house and I decided to open carry for the first time to the park. I have open carried for about the past three years and have never had an issue. Knowing (and keeping a copy of ORC 9.68 with me along with my conceal carry permit) I might run into a confrontation I wanted to make sure I had my bases covered.
True enough, after about a half hour at the local park, an officer finally approached me as I finished putting my three year old girl onto a ride (ironically it was a rocket ship ride that went in circles and had toy “shooting guns” on the front and rear of the “ships” for the kids to play shoot the bad guys) that he asked me to step aside and keep my hands in plain view. Complying, I did as I was asked.
I sat down on the stone wall by the ride as my wife kept an eye on our child. The officer, who was as nice as could be, asked if I had a conceal carry permit – which I did, and handed to him. He asked if I knew I couldn’t open carry in the park. I politely stated that I could and handed him a copy of ORC 9.68. He called it in, which the station verified was accurate – that there was no law against open carry in public places such as the park.
A few minutes later, the park manager, whom I know through my family, came over (at this time another officer had come over that I personally know) and informed the officer that earlier in the year they had gotten a call about someone carrying a gun at the local little league baseball field. He had checked with the city attorney and council and found that the person was well within their legal right to do so (I believe that that call was also about me as I had started open carrying this spring at my oldest son’s baseball games). They just could not go into any buildings (which I knew also).
Finally, a lieutenant officer who was also very cordial, came up and asked if I knew that having the conceal carry license precluded me from open carrying. I politely responded that he in fact was misinformed and that the two were independent of each other. Just having my conceal carry license does not prohibit anyone from open carrying or restrict them to only concealing when they do carry. He stated that he had been through “the classes” recently and that I was wrong but moved on quickly to inform me that many people in the park were concerned and they could charge me with public disorder/panic. He politely asked if I could return to my vehicle and put it in the car. Since we had walked I said that was not possible, but I asked if just pulling my collared shirt out and covering it would suffice. He confirmed this would be alright.
Now, I could have stood my ground, knowing my rights, and been defiant and continued to open carry. That wasn’t my intention. I am a law abiding citizen exercising my God given rights to bear arms and protect myself and my family. Upon his request to conceal (or return it to the vehicle) I complied. I am not out to cause a ruckus, but I don’t believe in being one who’s intentionally defiant when politely asked. I respect the officers and their job and understand their position as long as they understand the law. There is a balance and a decency with which I believe we need to conduct ourselves. I tried to conduct myself within that code of decency while defending my rights.
Needless to say, everything turned out well. Several officers of the law learned something more about Ohio’s gun laws for which I am glad. One of the officers even made mention that inspite of what happened in Aurora this past week that gun restriction is not the answer. I believe his theory holds more common sense and weight than the blind faith belief of gun control advocates that getting rid of guns will cease the killings and violence.
Criminals will never obey the laws – that is why they are criminals. If it is illegal to carry a gun, they will carry in spite of the law – with an illegal intent in mind – hence the gun. As the officer said – the only way to avoid events such as the tragic shooting in Aurora is to arm the victims. When the criminals know they might die by the method of which they intend to commit a crime, it causes pause. Statistics back this up in states where conceal carry licenses are allowed.
A gun carrying citizen could have saved more lives in Aurora had they been concealed carrying and neutralized the evil that caused so much grief this past week. When will we realize the issue is not guns, but the evil intent of the heart of man who has no hope?