Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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For the gun lobby and its political allies, the answer to gun violence is always more guns and fewer restrictions


More than 110,000 concealed carry handgun licenses were issued or renewed in Ohio last year.

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The Blade recently published a brief account of a local shooting that’s worth noting: Leonard Ritchie, 61, of Erie Township, was arrested for allegedly getting out of his pickup and firing three times at another pickup, after the trucks grazed each other about eight miles north of Toledo.

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Mr. Ritchie had a valid Michigan concealed-carry permit. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the shooting is another example of what can happen when angry people have a weapon in reach.

Since 2007, nearly 700 people nationwide — including 17 law enforcement officers — have been killed in nonself-defense incidents by people with permits to carry concealed weapons, reports the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit advocacy and education group.

That number is probably low because of state laws that shield concealed-carry permits from open-records laws. The tally includes a 2008 case in Cuyahoga County in which a motorist shot a police officer to death after he was pulled over for playing loud music.

These statistics and the recent apparent incident of road rage outside Toledo do not reflect the vast majority of people who legally, and responsibly, carry concealed weapons. Still, they ought to serve as cautionary tales for lawmakers who continue to eviscerate already-anemic restrictions on gun ownership and use.

Nothing seems to sway the most extreme members of the pro-gun crowd. Even the mass shooting more than two years ago at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children dead failed to stall its risky agenda.

The gun lobby and its lapdogs in the Ohio General Assembly and Congress have beaten back nearly every effort to enact reasonable gun safety laws, including comprehensive background checks. For them, the answer to gun violence is more guns and fewer restrictions.

Every session of Congress and the legislature brings more misguided attempts to weaken gun safety laws. Last year, Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill that weakens firearm training requirements for Ohio concealed-carry permits, and allows many out-of-state concealed-carry licenses to be recognized in Ohio.

More than 110,000 concealed-carry licenses were issued or renewed in Ohio last year. Most of them were new issues.

This year, a bill before the state House would, among other things, permit concealed weapons in churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship, and in day-care centers. Carrying guns into such places raises the risks of carnage to unacceptable levels.

Nor will the General Assembly’s crusade against gun safety laws likely end there. Ohioans will almost certainly see more attempts to enact this state’s version of a “stand your ground” law.

Previous bills would have vastly expanded the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat before using lethal force in self-defense. They would have extended certain immunities, without cause and with great risk, to anywhere a person has a legal right to be.

On Capitol Hill, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) has introduced a bill that would federally mandate a national concealed-carry policy requiring all states to recognize gun carry permits from other states with weaker gun safety laws. That proposal not only violates common sense, but also a state’s right to decide how best to protect its citizens.

The bill would hold hostage states with stronger gun laws to those with weaker ones — including Florida, which authorized George Zimmerman, who had a history of violence, to carry the gun he used to kill an unarmed teenager in 2012.

Ordinary citizens, in Ohio and around the country, are sick of gun violence and the misguided policies that help perpetuate it. It’s time their elected representatives stopped chipping away at gun safety laws that protect us all.

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