Sunday, September 21, 2003

Man to put gun, debate in open

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Northside man suing for the right to carry concealed weapons will strap his handgun on his hip Sept. 28 and lead a group of like-minded gun owners up and down his neighborhood streets.

Vernon Ferrier ishoping his "Gun Walk'' might light a fire under the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus, where justices have been considering the concealed-carry issue for five months.

"I'd like to kick them off the fence,'' he said. "We haven't heard anything since April.''

He's also trying to make the point, he said, that carrying openly is ridiculous and defeats the goal of being able to surprise a would-be criminal. And while he says he's not trying to taunt the police, he also wants to prove it is legal to carry a weapon openly. Officers, he said, initially told him he couldn't.

"I'd like for that 80-year-old woman walking down the street to be able to have a gun in her purse,'' Ferrier said. "It doesn't work the same if she's got it out where someone can see it.''

Ferrier is part of a group of Cincinnatians that sued every municipality in Hamilton County, the city of Cincinnati, the county and the state in July 2000, charging that the ban on concealed weapons violates their constitutional rights.

Northside is a neighborhood keenly aware of the concealed-carry debate.

In May, resident and citizens-on-patrol member Hal McKinney, shot a man in Junker's Tavern during a robbery. The shooting - and the grand jury's decision not to indict McKinney - drew national attention.

Chuck Klein, another plaintiff in the suit, hadn't heard of Ferrier's plan.

"I don't think anybody can hurry the Supreme Court up,'' he said.

Ferrier, a 62-year-old hairdresser in Hyde Park, notified Cincinnati police of his plan.

"Just as long as they don't break the law,'' said Lt. Kurt Byrd, spokesman for the department.

Ferrier will start at 1 p.m. on Florida Avenue with a safety meeting. He wants to make sure "no one even jaywalks," he said.

"I don't want people showing up with T-shirts that say, like: `Kill 'Em All and Let God Sort 'Em out,' '' he said. "These are responsible people.''


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