Saturday, April 19, 2008

'Open carry' walk to be held Saturday

"In commemoration of the "shot heard round the world" that started the American Revolution 233 years ago, two local men have organized an "open carry" walk in Urbana for Saturday, April 19, "Patriots' Day."

Tom Horch of Urbana said he and Michael Craft of Thackery aren't aiming to be trend-setters, but the issue of the right to keep and bear arms has become more prominent in this election year.

"Back in March, I saw an article about an incident that happened in Hilliard, where a man was minding his own business, not doing anything wrong, and he was harassed by the police," Horch said. "We were hanging out a couple weeks ago at Mike's place, and we usually get together every year on Patriots' Day to do something, and it just dawned on me that we should do this."

Horch said open-carry is legal in Ohio, but many residents need to be reminded of that fact.

"There were several open-carry marches a few years ago, prior to the concealed-carry law passage," he said. "Our walk is not for any particular agenda, other than to exercise our rights as free citizens."

Horch said he and Craft have posted fliers about the event and also notified local law enforcement.

"I did receive a letter about it and had a conversation with (Urbana Police) Chief Pat Wagner and the dispatch center," said Sheriff Brent Emmons. "Obviously they have the right to do the walk and we respect that. We want people to understand the purpose behind the walk and that it's not illegal, but our patrol officers and dispatchers are aware that we may get calls."

Wagner agreed.

"The only concern I have is the number of calls we may get from people who don't know that it is, in fact, legal to open carry," Wagner said.

Horch said that public education about the law is one purpose of the walk.

"Some people fear the unknown, same as when the concealed-carry law was proposed, but since it has passed, we haven't had shootouts and people have been safely exercising our rights," Horch said. "We don't want anyone to freak out about this. All we want to do is educate people and at the same time exercise our rights and freedoms."

The participants in the walk will meet in the public parking lot next to the Urbana municipal building on Market Street at 10 a.m., and walk around downtown for an hour or two, mainly in the Monument Square area, then break for lunch.

"The only thing I'm concerned about is the weather because right now they're calling for a 50 percent chance of rain," Horch said. "I have no qualms about the six people who have already expressed interest so far. They're all safety-minded individuals."

Good on ya, mates.

Dayum but I'd love to be there with a camera to take pics of all the soccer mom's hitting the deck.

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