June 29, 2016

Mostly clear

Opinion: Nothing illegal about open carry, but I won’t stick around

I frequently visit Medina with my husband and two young children because that’s where I grew up and my parents still live there.

The Gazette tells me that next time I’m on the Square with my kids, I might see people from the activist group Northeast Open Carry patrolling the area with firearms in holsters or strapped to their backs.

If I do, I won’t call the police since there’s nothing illegal going on. The law is already firmly on the side of open carry advocates. They aren’t even required to show their IDs when questioned by police.

But I won’t stick around. Police who carry firearms are trained and hired to serve and protect. Concealed carry requires at least a permit.

But a man just strutting around with a gun, he’s a total unknown. Maybe he’s had sufficient training in firearm use and safety, maybe not. Maybe he’s a schizophrenic about to have his first onset of serious symptoms. Maybe he’s generally paranoid with lousy judgment. Maybe he’s a perfectly stable, responsible guy. The point is, I don’t know.

What I do know is that Joe Smith or whoever is holding a deadly weapon and could easily kill me or my kids from hundreds of feet away.

To Joe Smith or whoever, I didn’t ask for your protection, and more importantly, I don’t need it. The Medina crime rate is much lower than both the Ohio average and national average crime rates. The city is ranked among the safest 15 percent of Ohio’s communities, according data compiled by USA.com. Most of the rare robberies and thefts that happen in Medina do not involve a deadly weapon at all. So unless you are on your way to the shooting range or to hunt, why are you flaunting your firearms in public spaces?

Just because you have the legal right to openly carry shotguns, assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols in public doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or without risk. The Constitution gives the Westboro Baptist Church the right to protest military funerals with signs saying “God hates fags.” That doesn’t mean they should or that doing so won’t cause trouble. It also doesn’t mean that the public should accept such behavior as “normal.”

People of Medina live without fear. It’s not that crime never happens in Medina, but the number of crimes there that could be prevented by a random stranger walking around with a gun are so low that they’re negligible.

In a safe place, adding guns only adds the risks that come with them. That’s why most people in Medina clear the area and might even call 911 in response to seeing a random stranger casually patrolling public spaces. Nobody here needs to be “educated.” We already felt safe, and Northeast Open Carry activists are taking some of that peace of mind away.

Martha Knox is an artist and blogger living in Philadelphia. She is the daughter of Gazette managing editor David Knox.

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The Gazette is Medina County's daily local news source, serving the community since 1832. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.