Ohio Gun Rights Advocate Sues over ‘Plain Sight’ Carry

Parts of Ohio’s new concealed carry law are unconstitutional and were written by “idiots,” contends a gun-rights advocate who sued the state on June 30, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Stephen Miller, a lawyer and handgun instructor from Independence, sued in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, asking a judge to strike down the law’s language governing how guns may be carried in vehicles.

The law requires that when people licensed to carry concealed firearms get into a vehicle, they lock their guns in the glove compartment or a box, or wear them holstered “in plain sight.” But the law doesn’t define “plain sight.”

That is a huge blind spot, Miller contends. A holstered gun, even if not covered by clothing or other obstruction, can be hard for a person outside a vehicle to see on someone in the driver’s seat, he said. And without a clear definition, an otherwise legally armed motorist who gets pulled over by police is at the whim of the officer’s or department’s interpretation.

A representative from one department told Miller police would arrest anyone whose gun isn’t visible to an officer at the driver’s window, Miller said, but the chief for another department said police wouldn’t arrest in that situation.

“Therefore, you have an unequal application of the law and a violation of the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection,” Miller said.

The ambiguity also leaves police departments vulnerable to charges of false arrest, he claims. The Plain Dealer reported that Ken Hanson, a lawyer for Ohioans for Concealed Carry Inc., said Miller’s concerns are valid, and police chiefs are equally baffled over how to enforce the law.

“Most of the places I’ve talked to have taken the common-sense approach that if a gun is visible from any vantage point outside the car, it’s OK,” he said. “But several have expressed concerns.”

Hanson, who lobbied for the law, said the State Highway Patrol wrote the language in question. Miller wants the “plain view” language stricken so people in vehicles “would be able to carry in their cars the way the license indicates: concealed.”

But the effect could be a ruling that all loaded guns in vehicles must be locked away, Hanson said. Miller, who carries a license and a gun, says the law “is replete with stupidity from beginning to end,” and probably should be scrapped until lawmakers can craft something better.

“Unless they fix this thing, this is just the beginning of a multiplicity of lawsuits I will file,” he said, according to The Plain Dealer. “I’m not against concealed carry. I’m against the moronic legislature that wrote the law . . . and the governor who signed it.”

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