More Lawsuits Loom as Ohio Lawmakers Debate Concealed Carry Bills

Tuesday, June 12th, 2001

The Second Amendment Foundation announced today that it has additional lawsuits planned against the current Ohio law banning the means of self-defense outside one’s home through legal concealed carry of firearms by law-abiding adult citizens.

“The current law is unconstitutional, and all we need to do is present our case before a fair and impartial judge to have it tossed out,” proclaimed Alan Gottlieb, SAF Founder. “We hoped our Cincinnati lawsuit could go forward to resolve this issue by now, but our opponents have kept us in procedural appeals for almost a year.”

SAF’s Cincinnati lawsuit was originally filed along with four diverse Ohio residents back in July, 2000. The complaint called the current scheme a violation of both the Ohio Constitution (Article 1, Section 1 [inalienable rights to defending life, liberty and property], Article 1, Section 4 [bear arms for defense and security], Article 1, Section 2 [equal protection] and Article 1, Section 16 [due process]). But Judge Robert Ruehlman, in granting a TRO that is no longer in effect, found yet another problem under current law. The current law treats people as guilty until proven innocent!

The Ohio laws in question, R.C. 2923.12, bans all concealed carry of firearms with felony penalties for any violations while R.C. 2923.16 bans loaded gun in a motor vehicle. It is only after a person caught carrying a concealed firearm or with a gun in the car, and the person is incurring the costs and stresses of a criminal trial that the current law allows the possibility of an “affirmative defense” to be made. Such an unjust system must be replaced with reasonable and prudent legislation, and that is the reason for the lawsuit.

SAF’s current lawsuit and its likely success are seen by some observers as a reason lawmakers have filed several concealed carry bills in the Ohio Legislature this year as well as the strong support these bills are receiving. Rep. Tom Brinkman has sponsored H.B. 225, which is considered a “Vermont style” bill where law-abiding adults can carry legally without a license. Rep. Jim Aslanides is sponsoring H.B. 274, which would provide a “shall issue” licensing system for all qualified adults. Ohio remains one of only 6 (six) states barring concealed carry.

“For years, the anti-self-defense crowd have blocked efforts to reform this unconstitutional ban,” stated Dave LaCourse, SAF Public Affairs Director. “If our lawsuits prevail, and no replacement bills are passed, then they will have their wish and law-abiding people will be able to carry firearms without any license.”

Due to the fact that this lawsuit remains stuck in the Ohio Supreme Court awaiting a technical appeal on whether or not to allow anti-gun attorneys from Washington, D.C. to represent Ohio governmental agencies (even though they are not licensed to practice law in Ohio), SAF is exploring other counties for filing identical lawsuits in order to continue pressuring the Ohio Lawmakers and particularly the Governor.

“Whether through the Legislature or the courts, the Ohio Constitution needs to be recognized and respected as including the right of self-protection through the carrying of defensive firearms,” concluded Gottlieb. “Expect SAF to continue pushing this issue on the legal front until the Legislature and the Governor address this problem.”

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.

The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 600,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the gun control debate and its consequences. SAF previously has funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles, New Haven, CT, and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners. Current projects include a damage action lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers, an amicus brief in support of the Emerson case holding that the Second Amendment is an individual right and a lawsuit against the Clinton gun and magazine ban.