Ohio Gun Law [was] Blocked By Restraining Order

Tuesday, July 18th, 2000

CINCINNATI, OHIO (Tuesday, July 18, 2000) – Judge Robert Ruehlman today issued a restraining order against enforcement of Ohio’s law banning concealed carry of firearms as well as the law banning loaded firearms in a motor vehicle. The order affects the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Backers of the legal action are very pleased.

“These laws are in clear violation of both Ohio and U.S. Constitutions and were ripe for challenges after the Pat Feely decision,” proclaimed Alan Gottlieb, Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF). “We saw a huge opportunity to advance the rights of self-defense and took advantage of it.”

In addition to blocking enforcement of R.C. 2923.12 (banning concealed carry) the Judge included R.C. 2923.16, (loaded gun in a motor vehicle). The restraining order will be in place until after the preliminary injunction hearing beginning August 11, 2000.

Until that time, law-abiding adult residents of Cincinnati and Hamilton County can legally carry a loaded firearm on their person or in their car without risk of arrest or prosecution PROVIDED that they do not violate other laws prohibiting possession in bars, schools, or other specified places. The law preventing felons and other disqualified from possessing guns, R.C. 2923.13, is also still in effect as is R.C. 2923.15 (using weapons while intoxicated).

The restraining order makes Hamilton County unique. The only state with a similar carry law is Vermont, where any law-abiding adult can carry a gun if they have a driver’s license or some other form of photo identification because of a court decision, State v. Rosenthal (1903). Including Vermont, 43 states allow the lawful concealed carry of firearms. Of the remaining 7 states which deny the individual’s right of self-defense outside one’s home or fixed place of business, Ohio is unique with its incomprehensible affirmative defense and on whom the burden of proof is placed.

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 found yet another problem under current law.

“The judge made it clear that the current law treats people as guilty until proven innocent,” said SAF attorney William Gustavson. “If this order is upheld, the burden of proof will switch to the Government to show why the person should not be allowed to carry a firearm for self-defense.”

In a recent case against a pizza delivery driver, both the prosecutor and the judge stated that the law should be changed or repealed. The defendant, Pat Feely, was known to carry large sums of cash in bad neighborhoods as part of his employment. He was acquitted at trial, but could have faced the same charges if found carrying a concealed firearm again unless the restraining order was issued. Such unfairness opened the door for throwing the unconstitutional law out.

“For years, Gov. Bob Taft and the anti-self-defense crowd have blocked reasonable standards for issuing concealed carry licenses,” stated Dave LaCourse, SAF Public Affairs Director. “Now they have their wish, and Hamilton County allows law-abiding people to carry firearms without a license. I hope this decision sends a message to them that the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions are still valid and binding.”