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Trial Begins in Lawsuit to Allow Carrying of Firearms for Self-Protection

Wednesday, November 28th, 2001

The lawsuit to overturn the unconstitutional laws barring self-defense through legal concealed carry of firearms by law-abiding adults begins on Thursday, November 29th at 10:30 AM in the Common Pleas Court in Hamilton County, Ohio. The lawsuit involves two combined cases funded by the Second Amendment Foundation.

“It is great to finally have a trial on the merits after suffering through more than a year of endless delays,” said Dave LaCourse, SAF Public Affairs Director. “The right of self-protection is as valid outside the home as within it, and the current scheme is unconstitutionally prohibitive.”

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 Both the prosecutor and the judge in that case stated that the law should be changed or repealed. While Feely was acquitted at trial, he could face the same charges again if found carrying a concealed firearm in the future. The threat and costs of repeated prosecutions is only one of many reasons for declaring the current law unconstitutional.

Mr. Feely returned to a job where he will carry large sums of cash again as part of his employment, and this job change prompted this new lawsuit. He and the other plaintiffs like Chuck Klein want their right of self-defense restored, and they are joined by several pro-gun rights organizations like the Second Amendment Foundation.

SAF’s new suit exposes the current scheme as a violation of 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]). In addition, as Judge Ruehlman found in the original suit in Cincinnati, the current law treats people as if 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 guns in a motor vehicle. Only after a person is caught violating either of these provisions, and the person incurs the costs and stresses of a criminal trial, does the current law allow 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.

If the laws are overturned, this does NOT mean that criminals, juveniles and other prohibited persons could carry firearms since many gun laws will remain enforceable. If there are any questions about this fact, please call either of the numbers above, or visit our website at http://www.saf.org/Ohio.htm

“This lawsuit is about the rights of law-abiding adults to protect themselves from rapists, robbers and other street thugs,” stated LaCourse. “This case is not about arming criminals, and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar. But if we prevail, I hope our opponents will place the blame squarely on Governor Taft for refusing to resolve the longstanding concealed carry debate and thus forcing legal action against the current unconstitutional scheme.”