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Published: Friday, 5/7/2004

Concealed carry scrutinized

All of the states that allow citizens to carry concealed handguns have been careful about issuing permits, Brian Patrick, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Toledo, said during a taping of The Editors television program.

Ohio on April 7 became the 46th state with some form of concealed-carry law. No state has issued permits to just anyone, Dr. Patrick said. Every state has a set of restrictions and a process to evaluate the effects of the law.

"The people who are licensed to carry under these laws are a very carefully selected lot," Dr. Patrick said. "They are not impulsive. They have no criminal records.

"They are upstanding in every way, and they're not really a risk," he said. "And as a result, these laws have been without sad consequences. I don't think they've come across as dramatic decreasers of crime as they've been touted. But there haven't been negative effects, and this is on a national basis, and I wouldn't see them in Ohio."

Dr. Patrick, who has been studying the concealed-carry movement, was questioned by Thomas Walton, vice president-editor of The Blade.

The Editors will be broadcast at 8:30 tonight on WGTE-TV, Channel 30, and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on WBGU-TV, Channel 27.

Proponents and opponents of concealed-carry laws are selective in how they choose to interpret reality, Dr. Patrick said. There has been little widespread research on the laws' effects. One national study found that crime went down when gun ownership went up. But crime generally has been going down.

"I am convinced [the researcher] is right in that crime is not going up because of concealed carry," Dr. Patrick said. "As for this notion of people suddenly becoming empowered to stop crime, I just don't see it happening."

The Ohio law restricts where permit holders may carry guns and mandates 12 hours of training classes. States are comparable in how permit holders may use their guns. Use in self-defense is a right, but the danger must be immediate. Brandishing a weapon is a felony, he said.

"The idea that you are threatened is not self-defense," he said. He added that a law enforcement official told him that even if a person shoots someone justifiably, he or she can expect $20,000 to $40,000 in legal fees to defend the action.


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