Ohio's Gun Laws
Challenged by Four Workers
Goal: OK to Carry Concealed Firearm
Written By Dan Horn - The Cincinnati Enquirer - Tuesday, July 18, 2000
[See the follow story up below]
| A hairdresser, a personal trainer, a deliveryman and a
private investigator will ask a judge today to let them carry
guns on the job.
All four are part of a Hamilton County lawsuit that was
filed Monday in hopes of overturning Ohio's concealed
The lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional
because it does not distinguish between criminals and people
who carry guns for their own protection.
“We're trying to get the attention of the state legislature,”
said Chuck Klein, a Cincinnati private investigator who is part
of the lawsuit.
“If they don't want us to carry guns, they've got to
change the Constitution to stop us.”
His attorneys, Tim Smith and William Gustavson, will ask
Judge Robert Ruehlman to issue an order today allowing Mr.
Klein and the others to carry guns on the job.
They say their clients need the guns because they are
physically unable to defend themselves or because they keep
large amounts of cash with them.
The lawyers also have asked for a trial date so they can
argue for throwing out the concealed weapons law altogether.
They argue that the law is unfair because it conflicts
with the Ohio and U.S. constitutions.
On one hand, they say, Ohio's Constitution allows
carrying a gun to protect life and property. On the other,
state law bars people from carrying a concealed weapon
under any circumstances.
Mr. Klein said the only way a person can find out if he is
breaking the law is to get arrested, go to court and hope a
judge finds in his favor.
“That's totally unfair,” Mr. Klein said.
The same argument came up in May when a pizza
deliveryman, Patrick Feely, won the right to carry a gun for
The lawsuit names Hamilton County Sheriff Simon L. Leis
and Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher as defendants
because they are responsible for enforcing the law.
City attorneys say they will argue that the state law is
a proper way to protect police and citizens. “There is no
fundamental constitutional right to carry a concealed
weapon,” said Richard Ganulin, an assistant city solicitor.
Judge Ruehlman will decide today whether the four
people who filed the lawsuit should be allowed to carry guns
pending a trial.
Judge Ruehlman already has ruled on one major case
involving gun control. Last year, he threw out the city of
Cincinnati's lawsuit against gun manufacturers.
The judge said the misuse of firearms is beyond the
control of gun makers.
Law enforcement officials concerned
Wednesday, July 19, 2000
By Dan Horn - The Cincinnati Enquirer
| Vernon Ferrier can carry his gun to work today without
worrying about breaking the law.
Because of him, so can almost everyone else in Hamilton County.
Mr. Ferrier and three other Cincinnatians won a court
victory Tuesday that left the county with no concealed
weapons law for at least the next three weeks.
Judge Robert Ruehlman's decision means Cincinnati police
and the Hamilton County sheriff can no longer arrest people
for carrying hidden guns.
It also means Cincinnati is about to become a battle
ground in the national fight over gun control.
“This is pretty significant,” said Tim Smith, an attorney for Mr.
Ferrier and the others. “It's an important issue.”
Mr. Ferrier, a Hyde Park hairdresser, said he and the others
filed their lawsuit this week in hopes of overturning Ohio's law on
carrying con cealed weapons.
They contend the law is unfair because law-abiding citizens
cannot get permits to carry a concealed gun. Instead, they must
get arrested and go to court to prove they have a good reason
to carry a gun.
“This is long overdue,” Mr. Ferrier said of Judge
Ruehlman's decision. “I should have just as much right to
defend myself as the police or anyone else.”
The judge granted a temporary restraining order that
bars enforcement of the law until he hears more arguments on
“I've always had problems with this statute,” the judge
His decision immediately stirred both anger and praise.
Some welcomed it as a great defense of the U.S.
Constitution, while others condemned it as an invitation for
criminals to take up arms.
“This misdirected ruling opens the barn door for every
violent criminal to carry a weapon and get away scot free,”
said Keith Fangman, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
“If any of our officers or innocent citizens are killed
because Judge Ruehlman allowed violent criminals to carry
guns, he's going to have blood on his hands.”
Sheriff Simon L. Leis also raised concerns about safety.
“We just hope no one gets hurt,” said sheriff's spokesman
Other law enforcement officials said the decision could
wreak havoc with the justice system.
Prosecutor Mike Allen said it may affect hundreds of
people who are either in jail or facing criminal charges for
violating the concealed weapons law.
He said he would not be surprised to see defense
attorneys rushing to the courthouse this week with Judge
Ruehlman's court order in hand, hoping to free their clients.
“This is unprecedented,” Mr. Allen said. “There's going
to be a lot of confusion. It's not an order that is easy to
Much of the confusion centers on whether the judge's
decision applies only to the sheriff and police division, or to all
county law enforcement agencies.
Although the sheriff and police were the only agencies
named in the lawsuit, the judge's order could have a chilling
effect on suburban police departments and other agencies.
The “practical effect” of the judge's order is to ban
enforcement of the law in Hamilton County, said Todd Boyer,
spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery.
In court Tuesday, attorneys for the city and county
argued that a ban on enforcement would rob the government
of its right to protect public safety.
“They have no fundamental constitutional right to carry
a concealed weapon,” said Richard Ganulin, an assistant city
solicitor. “The right to bear arms ... has never been construed
as a right to carry concealed weapons.
“It is, at best, a privilege.”
He said some form of concealed weapons law has been
on the books in Ohio for 80 years. And whenever it has been
challenged, he said, Ohio courts have upheld it.
Mr. Ganulin also suggested that Mr. Ferrier and the
others should take the issue to state lawmakers, not a judge.
“They want the court to stand in the shoes of the state
legislature to create public policy,” Mr. Ganulin said.
But Mr. Smith said his clients have good reason to go to
He said the law violates the Ohio and U.S. constitutions
because it prevents his clients — a personal trainer, a private
detective, a deliveryman and Mr. Ferrier — from defending
He said his clients need guns because they are
physically unable to defend themselves or because they fear
being robbed or attacked while on the job.
But under Ohio law, Mr. Smith said, only a judge can
decide if those reasons are good enough to justify carrying a
And to get a judge, he said, they must first get
“The state of Ohio has set up a system in which you
cannot defend yourself against criminals,” Mr. Smith said.
It is the same argument the National Rifle Association
and other gun lobbyists have been making for most of the
past decade as states have grappled with concealed weapons
To date, 43 states allow some form of permits to carry
concealed weapons. Seven, including Ohio, do not.
Mr. Smith suggested that Ohio could resolve the
constitutional issues in its existing law by adopting a licensing
procedure for concealed weapons.
Judge Ruehlman's decision Tuesday is the second
controversial ruling he has made recently in a gun-related
Last fall, he threw out the city of Cincinnati's lawsuit
against gun manufacturers, saying the misuse of firearms is
beyond the control of gun makers.
Mr. Ferrier said the judge made the right call. He said he
is not an activist, only a businessman who wants to protect
“My involvement in this is not so I can be armed
everywhere I go,” he said. “It's so I can be armed if I choose
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