Concealed Carry Case Expedited and Stay Modified with Expiration Date

Friday, January 25th, 2002

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has won another victory in its effort to overturn two Ohio gun control laws. The Court of Appeals modified the stay so that it expires on April 10th at 9:00 AM, set oral arguments for March 20th and noted that if the laws are found unconstitutional, the court is not inclined to grant any other stays. All of this is considered good news by those challenging the gun control laws.

“We consider this a win, as the burden of proof was on us the whole time,” said SAF Public Affairs Director Dave LaCourse. “The Governor and the Legislature should seek a solution quickly, as the court hinted that if they uphold the decision overturning these laws, no further stays are likely. This was both a shrewd move, and a stern warning.”

The stay entry also specifically mentioned that the reason to extend it was to, “maintain the status quo during the pendency of this appeal, allowing the legislature to address the issue…” This, plus the expedited trial date and many statements from the judges, indicates they have problems with these gun laws and enforcement practices. The supporters of the current unconstitutional scheme and those opposing all efforts to reform should be very nervous.

“I believe that the judges on this panel have sent a signal that they don’t want unlicensed carry in Ohio, and have provided the Legislature time to fix this unconstitutional mess before they are forced to overturn these laws,” stated LaCourse. “But make no mistake; the current laws are in serious trouble. If our case was weak, a permanent stay would have been granted and there would have been no need for setting an extraordinarily quick hearing date.”

SAF’s lawsuit exposed the current scheme as a violation of the Ohio Constitution (Article 1, Section 1 [inalienable rights to defending life, liberty & property], Article 1, Section 4 [bear arms for defense & security], Article 1, Section 2 [equal protection] and Article 1, Section 16 [due process]). In addition, the current law treats people as if guilty until proven innocent and testimony at trial found that open carry is also not allowed. All this, plus the disparity between the public and private sector employees, makes these laws unconstitutional.

R.C. 2923.12 bans concealed carry of firearms with felony penalties for any violations while R.C. 2923.16 bans loaded guns in a motor vehicle. Only after a person is caught violating either of these provisions, and incurs the costs and stresses of a criminal trial, does the current law allow for an indefinable “affirmative defense.”

Plaintiffs include Pat Feely, who was previously arrested and tried under the gun carry ban scheme. Both the prosecutor and the judge in that case stated that the law should be changed or repealed. Feely, James Cohen, Vernon Ferrier, Leanne Driscoll and private investigator Chuck Klein sought to have their right of self-defense restored with several pro-gun rights groups like Ohioans for Concealed Carry, People’s Rights Organization and the Second Amendment Foundation. So far, everyone is pleased with the outcome.

“The Ohio Constitution and common sense are on our side, so it is no surprise that the Appeals Court took the unusual step to modify the stay,” stated LaCourse. “These unconstitutional gun control laws are on death row, and by ignoring this fact, the Governor and lawmakers are inviting Vermont-style carry. April 10th is looming.”

Nationally, 42 states specifically allow the carrying of concealed weapons or firearms with a license or permit. Vermont makes 43 states by allowing the carrying of concealed firearms without any license/permit because of a court decision, State v. Rosenthal (1903). Of the remaining 7 states, Ohio is unique with its incomprehensible affirmative defense and on whom the burden of proof is placed.