Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Ohio's gun laws being challenged by four workers


Goal: OK to carry concealed weapon

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        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 weapons law.

        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 protection.

        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.

       



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