Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Concealed weapons disputed

Judge says pizza delivery man had right to protect himself

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ohio's concealed weapons law came under fire in a Cincinnati court this week when a pizza delivery man won the right to carry a gun for protection.

        The judge said that Ohio's law is unfair because it treats “decent citizens like criminals.”

        The delivery man, Patrick Feely, 29, was arrested in September for carrying a handgun under his shirt.

        The Norwood man told police he wanted the gun for protection because his delivery job required him to carry hundreds of dollars at a time.

        “Everybody nowadays needs some kind of protection from criminals,” Mr. Feely said Tuesday. “You need to be able to defend yourself.”

        In his decision Monday, Judge Thomas Crush said Mr. Feely had a constitutional right to protect himself while working a job with a high risk for robbery. He threw out the charges against Mr. Feely.

        He also said Ohio's concealed weapons law is flawed because it does not distinguish between criminals and people who carry guns for their own protection.

        Under the existing law, he said, people must go on trial to find out whether they have the right to carry a gun.

        “An honest person in a difficult or dangerous job must subject himself to trial like a criminal,” Judge Crush said. “It's treating decent citizens like criminals.

        The judge said state law should allow law-abiding citizens to get permits to carry a concealed weapon for protection. That decision, though, is up to the state legislature.

        Mr. Feely's attorney, Tim Smith, said the case shows why the law needs to change.

        “The (concealed weapons) law is unconstitutional,” Mr. Smith said. “In effect, it takes away a constitutional right.”

        On one hand, he said, Ohio's constitution allows carrying a gun to protect life and property. On the other, state law bars people from carrying a concealed weapon under any circumstances.

        Mr. Feely said he has worked several delivery jobs and was so concerned about robbery that he began carrying a handgun five years ago.

        At the time of his arrest, he was working for a Cincinnati company that supplies pizza, subs and sandwiches to street vendors.

        Police stopped his car for an expired plate and noticed a knife in the car. When the officer asked whether he had any other weapons, Mr. Feely told him about the gun.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said the police officer acted appropriately when he arrested Mr. Feely.

        But he acknowledged the law might need some work.

        “Perhaps it is something the legislature should take a look at,” Mr. Allen said.


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