But you’d think there are some gun-related issues on which we could all agree. For example, I would expect that few level-headed people would advocate having loaded weapons in establishments that are primarily for alcohol consumption. Guns and alcohol are now the most toxic mix on our cocktail menus. Even if those carrying guns in bars were not consuming, lethal weapons have no place in an area where a little bit of liquor can lead to a great deal of trouble.
Polls suggest there is a degree of consensus about this. A survey commissioned earlier this year by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, of which I am the Ohio chairperson, found that 80 percent of Ohio residents opposed allowing guns in establishments that sell alcohol. And that 80 percent included 77 percent of gun owners.
So how did this misguided and unpopular proposal become law?
The firearms industry has a stranglehold on Congress and state legislatures around the country. When the the gun lobby says “Jump,” these legislative bodies ask, “How high?”
The argument in favor of this proposal on this issue is similar to the one we hear on all firearms-related issues. The gun lobby contends that, despite all evidence to the contrary, guns make us safer.
The gun lobby argues it is irresponsible not to allow concealed, loaded weapons in bars because, under the current law, those gathered in taverns today are defenseless. By this logic, we should be required to carry a firearm everywhere to protect ourselves, just as we’re required to wear seatbelts in our automobiles.
Of course, that would be ridiculous—though only slightly more ridiculous than passing a law to allow guns in bars. The fact is this outlandish proposal would be a terrible addition to an already bad law.
I fought Ohio’s existing concealed carry law when it was first proposed, and I believe Ohio would be a safer state without it. Like all mayors of big cities, I’ve seen the heartbreaking effects of gun violence up close, and I know putting more guns in more people’s hands promotes more violence, not less.
Proponents of the concealed carry statute point out that Ohioans must go through firearms safety training in order to obtain a permit to carry a gun in the Buckeye State. That’s true, but Ohio also honors concealed carry permits from 20 other states, some of which have less stringent requirements.
Those states include Utah, where residents can get a concealed carry permit after only four or five hours of weapons training. And unlike in Ohio, Utah’s required training does not even include firing the gun.
This means an Ohio resident can go through the lax training requirements to obtain a Utah concealed carry permit, which can then be used to carry a concealed gun in Ohio. Better yet, you don’t even have to go to Utah to get the permit. Ohio residents can get their Utah permits right here at home.
Now, those poorly trained Utah permit holders will be carrying their guns—legally—into drinking establishments.
Now that the gun lobby folks have succeeded in getting this law approved, I can’t imagine where they could do further damage to our community, unless of course they proposed something as irresponsible as the elimination of the concealed carry permit process altogether.
And that is exactly what the gun lobby is now proposing in Ohio. A new bill would scrap the concealed carry permit process while authorizing guns in public buildings, on college campuses and in day care centers.
Day care centers? It sounds like a bad joke. But so did guns in bars. And we aren’t laughing.
Michael B. Coleman is the mayor of Columbus, Ohio