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Out of grave concern for the well-being and safety of all Ohioans, we who give leadership to Christian churches that form the Ohio Council of Churches, are highly disappointed and extremely disturbed over Governor Mike DeWine’s recent signing of Senate Bill 215 into law. This new law surgically removes the requirements of permits, training, and background checks for those who elect to carry concealed weapons in Ohio.
We are cognizant of the fact that many hold a contested belief that carrying concealed guns provides a sense of confidence in their ability to manage actual threats or perceived risks of violence, injury, and death around themselves, and, therefore, reduces their sense of vulnerability while offering protection and defense for themselves and others.
However, experience informs us that there are others within the human family who hide their possession of guns not out of concern for their vulnerability but to render those around them as vulnerable. People in this category are not seeking to protect and defend humanity but instead, assault it.
We are concerned that the now legally permissible ability for Ohioans to carry concealed weapons without the requirements of permits, training, and background checks, has the potential to escalate simple disagreements and conflicts that could be solved without violence into moments of needless bloodshed and death.
In addition, we are quite concerned that this new law gives people the right to not disclose their possession of a concealed, loaded gun, even when stopped by law enforcement personnel. This chilling reality means that public safety officers who willingly and heroically protect us will be at risk for violent actions of people with concealed guns.
We do not understand how our state can say it values law enforcement officers while simultaneously placing them at risk of violent acts from unqualified people who are now lawfully permitted to have concealed guns within their reach.
What is also chilling about the new law is its allowance for persons to carry concealed, loaded guns without a license, background check, or training, even if they have been charged with pending felonies and violence-related crimes, including domestic violence and misdemeanor assault on a police officer. Ohio demands more from people to drive a car, go fishing, or get married than for carrying hidden weapons of deadly force.
As Christian leaders, we are privileged to serve and work alongside people who value peace, human dignity, and justice; as informed by the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ that fuels our sense of alarm that SB 215 was actually signed into law.
Furthermore, it saddens us that Gov. DeWine, whose bold leadership saved thousands if not millions of Ohio lives during the most painful months of the COVID-19 pandemic, has given the proverbial green light to concealed weapons legislation that will place untold numbers of Ohio lives at risk for preventable injury and death.
Let us be clear. This new law is not an antidote to fear but an accelerant. It neither protects the common good nor promotes it. Instead, it unnecessarily places police officers and all of us at risk. Ohio’s new concealed and carry law that authorizes concealed weapons without responsible qualifications is a clear and present danger to the well-being of us all. We believe the legislature should not have passed SB 215, and that Gov. DeWine should not have signed it into law.
The Governing Board and staff of the Ohio Council of Churches includes: Rev. DavidLong-Higgins, Conference Minister, Heartland Conference, United Church of Christ; Gregory V. Palmer, Resident Bishop, The West Ohio Conference, The United Methodist Church; Bishop W. Darin Moore, AME Zion Church; Kris Hawk, District Executive Minister, Northern Ohio District of the Church of the Brethren; Rev. Allen V. Harris, Regional Minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ohio; Rev. Adam Sornchai, Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church (Windfall) Cardington, Ohio and Secretary of the Ohio Council of Churches; Reverend Father Demetrios Gardikes, Dean of the Cathedral; Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral; Bishop Errenous E. McCloud, Jr., Presiding Bishop, AME Church, Third Episcopal District; Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr., Presiding Bishop, Second Episcopal District CME Church; Daniel G. Beaudoin, Bishop Northwestern Ohio Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; The Reverend LeCounte P. Nedab II, Pastor of the St James A.M.E. Zion Church Massillon, Ohio; The Rev. Melanie W.J. Slane,The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Cincinnati; Jennilou Grotevant, Clerk, Wilmington Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers); Bishop Tracy S. Malone, East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church; Deanna Fouche'-Baldwin, Executive Administrator, Ohio Council of Churches; The Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., Executive Director, the Ohio Council of Churches.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: New concealed carry law is not an antidote to fear but an accelerant