OSRA Kicks Off with a Bang: Speakers Discuss Gun Control
With the array of political action groups on campus, it’s easy for small or new organizations to get lost in the shuffle. The Oberlin Students Rifle Association was only chartered in December and is determined to be as visible as possible. Depending on ad-hoc funding, senior and OSRA Co-Chair Santiago Stocker said the club plans to provide rifle training to the general student body.
The first official OSRA event took place on Wednesday night and dealt with the controversial issue of Ohio’s concealed weapons law. Two representatives of Ohioans for Concealed Carry discussed their ongoing campaign to expand gun rights in Ohio and upend common misconceptions about firearms ownership.
Bryan Torok and Daniel White were the night’s speakers. Torok served with the Cleveland Police Department for 24 years, co-founded OFCC and is a certified instructor for the National Rifle Association. White is a NRA Training Counselor, edits the organization’s newsletter and hosts its PodCast. He has offered to teach Oberlin students the NRA’s Basic Pistol course through the club.
Their presentation focused on advocating for the passage of what White called the “Concealed Carry Reform Bill.” Its technical name is House Bill 347. White and Torok said this bill is meant to increase the rights of gun owners and correct many of the deficiencies contained in the concealed carry law enacted in 2004.
White and Torok took issue with the current law for a few reasons. They proposed replacing the acceptance of special regulations created by cities and towns with one set of statewide gun regulations.
“Right now any municipality can pass its own gun law,” said Torok. “Such a patchwork of laws makes it difficult to know what is legal and what is not.”
Another problem with the law as it now stands is that concealed carry licenses are a matter of public record.
“The media printed lists of [people with] licenses in the newspaper like they were doing something wrong,” said White.
The current law’s prohibition against concealed carry in all establishments that sold alcohol for consumption on site was also of concern.
“Our main concern is not bars per say, but the Olive Garden or the Chinese food restaurant,” said Torok. White called locations where concealed carry is banned unsafe.
“Criminals are free to ply their trade [in these places] because there is no one to oppose them,” said White, on the dangers of going unarmed.
Torok criticized the requirement that a concealed handgun be revealed when its owner enters a car. This necessity means the constant revealing and concealing of the weapon and, therefore, the increased danger of an accident.
“From a safety standpoint, the less you handle a gun the better,” he said.
Ohio is the only state with a concealed carry law that forces gun owners to display a concealed firearm while driving. An audience member asked if the proposed bill would allow concealed carry in highway-side public restrooms.
“We’re working on getting that fixed,” said White. “But it didn’t make the current round of legislation [going on the ballot].”
“As people get more comfortable with having concealed carry they will become more accepting of expanding it,” said White, “We didn’t lose these rights overnight and we won’t get them back overnight either.”
Torok and White concluded by criticizing the press’s coverage of gun control issues and the studies promoted by gun control groups.
“None of that stuff that the newspapers and anti-gun groups said would happen with concealed carry has happened,” said White.
“We tend to hear the same fact and argument against gun rights over and over even after they have been thoroughly debunked,” said Bryan Torok. “Of all these studies I have not seen one that would pass the process of peer review.”
In conjunction with sponsoring this event, OSRA held a raffle for free
beginner’s rifle training. The winner will be announced today.