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Ohio Court of Appeals Rejects Ban on Right to Carry

Sunday, April 14, 2002

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals held that Ohio’s ban on carrying concealed firearms violates Article 1 of the state Constitution—a ruling that upholds a January 10 decision by Judge Robert P. Ruehlman. When announcing the unanimous decision, presiding Judge Mark P. Painter read from Article 1, stating, "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security." He followed by claiming, "We believe they [the state’s founding fathers] meant what they said."

Ohio is one of only six states that currently prohibits all law-abiding citizens from carrying concealed firearms for personal protection, and does not offer a clear exemption to this prohibition for civilians. And while the law in question has a provision that justifies a "prudent person in going armed," this provision is what is referred to as an "affirmative defense," and can be used only after an individual has been arrested and indicted. Judge Painter commented, "No Ohioan can exercise the constitutional right to bear arms, whether concealed or unconcealed, without risking jail….We know of no other situation where a citizen is guilty until proven innocent." Wednesday’s ruling also found the "prudent person" provision incomprehensible to the ordinary citizen, pointing out that even a seasoned law officer could not determine its true meaning, leaving the law open to arbitrary enforcement.

What this ruling will ultimately mean to law-abiding Ohioans remains to be seen, as the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI promises another appeal is in the works. This anti-gun extremist organization, through what it calls the "Brady Center’s Legal Action Project," has been assisting the defendants in the case—which includes Hamilton County, Cincinnati, and the state of Ohio—by acting as co-counsel. The next stop for this case should be the Ohio Supreme Court, and we’ll be sure to keep you abreast of any new developments.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.