http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,42654,00.html             Thanks to Marcus for the alert

Judge: Ohio Ban on Concealed Weapons Unconstitutional

Thursday, January 10, 2002

CINCINNATI  A fitness trainer, hairdresser and pizza shop owner are all breathing easier after a judge in Ohio ruled they have a right to carry concealed weapons to protect themselves.

"There is no doubt that the very thought a potential victim might possess a firearm deters that element of our society that cares nothing about laws or human life but rather understands only one thing brute force," Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman wrote.

The common pleas judge ruled that Ohio's law against carrying concealed weapons violates the state constitution.

Lawyers for the city of Cincinnati, the county and state said they would appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2000 by a private investigator and four other workers who said their jobs required them to carry weapons for self-defense.

The workers say the Ohio Constitution allows citizens to bear arms and doesn't say the weapons cannot be concealed.

But Ohio allows only law enforcement officials or officers of the state and federal government to carry concealed weapons.

The workers argued that the ban subjects people to arrest before they get a chance in court to clear themselves by arguing they had legitimate self-defense reasons to be armed.

Lawyers for Cincinnati, Hamilton County and the state countered that the right to bear arms does not prevent the state from regulating how people may carry guns. They said concealed weapons pose a threat to police officers and others.

"Amidst all of the baying from gun opponents is the irrefutable fact that there will always be people in our society who refuse to follow any rules and how can never been reasoned with or rehabilitated," Ruehlman wrote. "These people have no conscience and no qualms about doing harm to innocent persons. As a consequence, every law-abiding citizen of this state has the right to protect him or herself with a concealed firearm."

Ruehlman defined law-abiding people as those not otherwise prohibited by federal, state or local law from possessing firearms.

Ruehlman heard testimony over four days in December.

After the trial, lawyers defending the state law asked the judge to remove himself from the case. They said he couldn't make a fair ruling because his wife and baby were kidnapped at gunpoint outside a strip-mall camera shop in 1989.

Ruehlman's wife, Tia, said a gun probably wouldn't have helped her overcome her assailant. She said she believes that residents should be able to carry concealed weapons but had not discussed the case with her husband.

Ruehlman declined to comment on the request.

Anti-gun groups said they were worried about the concealed weapons case because of Ruehlman's past rulings. Those include his dismissal of Cincinnati's lawsuit against gun manufacturers two years ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.