Cincinnati, Ohio: The Second Amendment Foundation, along with Ohio citizens, filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against the law prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms. The suit alleges that current law violates numerous federal and state constitutional protections.
“It is blatantly unfair to have a law where nobody knows whether he or she is complying with the law, or in violation of the law,” stated Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder. “There are no standards, guidelines or common sense under the current statute.”
The legal action specifically seeks to prevent enforcement of R.C. 2923.12 until a court reviews whether it is constitutional. The complaint calls the current scheme a violation of both the U.S. Constitution (Second Amendment [keep & bear arms], Ninth Amendment [self-defense], and Fourteenth Amendment [Equal Protection, Incorporation of Bill of Rights to the States]) as well as the Ohio Constitution, which reads:
Article 1, Section 1: All men are, by nature, free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.
Article 1, Section 4: The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.
The Ohio law in question, R.C. 2923.12, bans all concealed carry of firearms with felony penalties for any violations. It is only after a person caught carrying a concealed firearm 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.
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recent case against a pizza delivery driver, both the prosecutor and the judge stated that the law should be changed or repealed.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 was Pat Feely, who was known to carry large sums of cash in bad neighborhoods as part of his employment. He was acquitted at trial, but could face the same charges if found carrying a concealed firearm again. The threat and costs of repeated prosecutions is another reason for declaring the current law unconstitutional.
“Even after a defendant wins his or her case based on ‘affirmative defense’ showing need for carrying a firearm concealed, this does not prohibit dragging the same person into a courtroom again for the very same charge,” warned Timothy A. Smith, attorney for Mr. Feely and lead counsel for the pending legal action. “Such unfairness motivated Mr. Feely’s employer, James H. Cohen, to step forward as one of the plaintiffs seeking relief from courts against the current law.”
In addition to SAF and Mr. Cohen, the other plaintiffs include Chuck Klein, Vernon Ferrier and Lea Anne Driscoll. A ruling on the restraining order is expected this Tuesday, July 18, 2000. A full hearing on the constitutionality of the law is expected in August 2000.
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.