The guns on the bus…

RTA allows licensed weapons

By Sarah Sidlow

Forget bus fare—riders hoping to board Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) buses must now also show proof of a valid Ohio Concealed Handgun License with their ticket to ride. That is, if they want to bring a gun aboard.

You read that right: RTA’s revised policy now permits riders to bring guns onto the bus, as long as they show their valid license to carry.

But even though RTA approved the policy change, they aren’t thrilled about it. In fact, RTA had previously enacted a ban on all weapons, until they were faced with protests by pro-firearms groups, who accused RTA of violating Ohio’s state laws about municipal bans on firearms.

Catch me up: Ohio is an open-carry state, which essentially means Ohio citizens are allowed to openly carry guns in public without a license. But a gun in a motor vehicle is considered a concealed weapon—and for that, you need a permit (it’s called carrying a concealed weapon, often abbreviated as CCW).

Private property owners are legally allowed to ban guns from their property by posting signs. But, as of March 21, Ohio companies don’t have the same ability—they are not allowed to ban handguns from company property, like parking lots or vehicles, but they can still ban them from their buildings.

Proponents of RTA’s about-face, like The Buckeye Firearms Association, applauded the transit company for changing its policies to coincide with state laws—laws they claim allow them to better protect themselves. Basically, before this recent policy shift, many believed the RTA to be in violation of state laws. (Toledo’s transit authority changed their policy under 2011 under similar pressure.)

Other supporters argue that the RTA’s previous ban on firearms discriminated against those who choose to use public transportation. Some also note that people were already carrying guns on RTA buses; they just weren’t doing so legally. So there’s that.

But others remain unconvinced. Opponents of the new RTA policy (and, possibly by extension, the law that inspired it) argue that they actually feel less protected on a bus with guns. For one, they argue, if you cram, like, 70 people on a bus, how many innocent bystanders are likely to become collateral damage if an altercation occurs?

Moreover, most common crimes on public transportation are things like fare skipping and theft. While having your phone stolen can make for a really, really bad day, is opening fire on a crowded bus the most responsible reaction?

Others argue the new policy could lead to higher insurance and security costs, which equate to higher fares for riders. Not to mention the fact that the new policy will likely force others to choose alternate means of transportation.

Anything else? Dayton Public Schools is currently examining ways to save on busing. Yep, you guessed it: on the table is a proposal to send about 2,000 students to school on RTA buses. High schoolers already take the RTA.

It might be time to get a doctor’s note.

Reach Dayton City Paper forum moderator Sarah Sidlow at SarahSidlow@DaytonCityPaper.com.


Debate Question of the Week : Should certified guns be permitted on public transportation?


Public safety

Packing heat on the RTA is an equalizer

By David H. Landon

Recent changes to Ohio law concerning where licensed Ohioans are allowed to carry a concealed weapon have impacted the local the Regional Transit Authority (RTA). To comply with the new Ohio law, the RTA had to change its ridership policy and now must allow concealed carry permit (CCW) holders to bring concealed weapons onto its buses.

Some riders are concerned by the prospect of riding the bus with passengers who might now be carrying a concealed weapon. However, the reality of the matter is that they were already riding with passengers who were armed, but now some of those riders will be law-abiding gun owners.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gives Americans an equalizer in a dangerous world. Ohio legislation, to expand the areas where concealed carry permit holders are allowed to go with their concealed weapon, follows suit, now including all public places and most private businesses. Employers can still ban weapons inside their businesses, but they can no longer prohibit concealed carry permit holders from leaving firearms locked in their personal vehicles parked on company property. The decision by RTA brings the region’s largest public transport into compliance with state and federal law.

Ohio is not the first state to expand concealed carry into public spaces, including public transportation. More Americans can carry concealed weapons into more places than ever before. Nationwide, there are now over 8 million Americans with CCW permits. In the majority of states, law-abiding gun owners can walk into bars (though, not in Ohio), restaurants, and churches with their guns without fear of legal ramifications. Carrying a concealed handgun in public is permitted in all 50 states as of 2013 when Illinois became the last state to enact concealed carry legislation. Some states require gun owners to obtain permits while others have “unrestricted carry” and do not require permits.

Proponents of concealed carry say that criminals are less likely to attack someone they believe to be armed. They cite the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and argue that most adults who legally carry a concealed gun do not misuse their firearms. While licensing standards vary from state to state, most states have strong permitting standards to make sure that people who have a history of alcohol abuse or of violent arrests are not carrying guns in public. They all have an age limit, along with fingerprint and criminal background checks.

Another argument for allowing concealed carry is the simple fact that police can’t be everywhere at all times. A 2013 research article in the Wall Street Journal reported that the average police response time to an emergency call is 11 minutes, with some responses taking much longer. In Detroit, the average response time is 58 minutes. One Arizona sheriff acknowledged, in the article, “Police do very little to prevent violent crime. We investigate crime after the fact.” Most violent acts are over before the police can arrive. With the threat of terrorism on American soil now a reality, having someone nearby with a weapon might be the difference between life and death.

The majority of Americans support allowing the concealed carry of handguns. According to an April 2012 poll conducted for Thomson Reuters, 75 percent of Americans support “laws allowing law-abiding citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.” A 2013 CBS News and New York Times poll found that 65 percent of Americans “oppose a federal law requiring a nationwide ban on people other than law enforcement officers carrying concealed weapons.”

While the expansion of concealed carry laws has become another battleground on which the left/right debate is being waged, the majority of gun owners have guns for personal safety, and not to make a political statement.

Some studies also show a drop in violent crime since the expansion of concealed carry laws across the country. However, that drop in crime could be explained as part of a national trend, and it’s hard to show with any certainty that expanding concealed weapons laws has contributed to that drop in crime. Neither has there been any real evidence that expanding concealed carry laws would result in a “Wild West mentality,” causing more violent confrontations simply because of the availability of weapons. There has been no uptick in vigilante violence by concealed carry permit holders when compared to the public at large.

So how will this new law affect those who use the RTA? Hopefully, they will never encounter a situation where a fellow passenger pulls out a weapon. However, in the event of a violent crime on the bus you are riding, it should be reassuring to know that the bad guy might not be the only one packing a weapon.

David H. Landon is the former Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. He can be reached at DaveLandon@DaytonCityPaper.com.


Rounds and rounds

RTA caves in to political pressure

By Tim Smith

Fans of the Second Amendment to the Constitution are doing cartwheels over the recent decision by the Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) that allows passengers to board their busses with a weapon, provided they can show proof of having a concealed carry permit.

People have been carrying guns illegally on public transit for a long time. This ruling just makes it OK for law-abiding gunslingers to follow suit.

People already take weapons into restaurants, stores, and movie theatres, so why not add public transportation to the list? After all, what could possibly go wrong? Let’s peek into the crystal ball.

Every day in this country, there are incidents where people with a licensed firearm use their guns in anger, rather than self-defense. Riding a bus packed with passengers can be a somewhat stressful experience to begin with. Add someone with a short fuse who gets annoyed at the person sitting nearby because his music is too loud, and you have the ingredients for an active shooter situation. This is one of the reasons I don’t honk the horn when someone cuts me off in traffic; for all I know, the other person may have a gun and decide to use it.

As previously pointed out, Ohio is considered an open-carry state, which means you are allowed to openly carry guns in public without a license. If you carry a gun in your pocket or your motor vehicle, it is considered a concealed weapon unless you have a permit. Private property owners are legally allowed to ban guns from their premises by posting signs, but Ohio companies don’t have the same rights. They can ban guns from their buildings, but not their property, such as company-owned vehicles.

It’s interesting to note that this law doesn’t apply to municipal property, like federal, state, county, and city facilities. You can’t bring a weapon—licensed or not—anywhere on these properties. They post signs reminding you of this fact. That’s also why they have metal detectors in most government-owned buildings. Since RTA is basically a taxpayer-funded enterprise, wouldn’t it be considered an extension of municipal property?

Supporters of RTA’s decision, such as the Buckeye Firearms Association and, most likely, the NRA, consider this a victory. Their claim is that prior to this, RTA was in violation of state laws, and may have violated the constitutional right to bear arms. I find it interesting that these same groups don’t seem to have a problem with the TSA not allowing guns on commercial flights. I suppose it all depends on which end of the barrel you’re staring down.

But what about the rights of fellow passengers to feel comfortable during their daily commute? Do you think they’d rest easier with the knowledge that the person sitting across the aisle might be packing heat? Or that they may use that weapon if they spied someone snatching a purse or hassling another rider? Visions of the Wild West and Dirty Harry suddenly come to mind.

Another factor to be taken into account is that many people involved in active shooter situations owned their guns legally. Research from the Violence Policy Center has identified 31 mass shootings (meaning three or more victims killed) that involved private individuals with permits to carry concealed handguns resulted in the deaths of 147 victims. Further research compiled by NBC News reveals that 82 percent of weapons involved in mass shootings over the last three decades have been bought legally by licensed gun owners.

So what’s next? Does RTA put armed security guards on every bus? Does it install metal detectors and make passengers empty their pockets like they do in airports and government buildings? Think how that would impact little things like bus fares and liability insurance. Public transportation would no longer be affordable.

I’m not trying to turn this into a referendum on gun control, but it pays to consider the worst-case scenario. If some nut case woke up one morning and thought, “Hey, this would be a good day to shoot up a bus full of people,” the new RTA policy does nothing to discourage it. True, if someone is intent on following through on such a plan, no written rule is going to stop him. If that did happen and another armed passenger with a concealed carry permit decided to take action, I shudder to think of the results. In light of the Dayton Public School’s recent proposal to have younger kids ride RTA busses to school, this policy could potentially put them in harm’s way.

I think it’s time to check out Uber or that ride-share program.

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Smith at TimSmith@DaytonCityPaper.com. 

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Sarah Sidlow
Reach DCP editor Sarah Sidlow at SarahSidlow@DaytonCityPaper.com.

One Response to “Debate Forum: 6/13” Subscribe

  1. Wallace Freeman June 13, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    The word “except” does not appear in the second amendment.

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