Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Unconcealed Weapons In Ohio

Nobody wants to open their front door and see a strange man carrying an assault rifle. No matter what his intentions are or what his race is it can be a disturbing sight to say the least. But when that strange man is not from your neighborhood, to say that there is cause for concern is an understatement.

The owner of an East Exchange Street barbershop in Akron, Ohio unleashed a tirade Thursday against a man who has been carrying a gun around busy Akron streets, leading the rifleman to call police.

Akron has been abuzz with spottings of Daniel Kovacevic, 25, walking with a rifle on his back Monday near the University of Akron.

Deone Slater, owner of Kangaroo Kutz on East Exchange Street, did not to want to let Kovacevic in front of his shop Thursday morning. Kovacevic called police.

"He was a threat to my community," Slater said. "If I can prevent him from shooting up the city, I would. I won't condone it. Somebody's got to stand up."

Slater said police arrived within seconds and tried to calm Slater, who was yelling profanities at Kovacevic.

"He (Slater) was obviously emotional and concerned about his safety and the safety of everyone in the community," said Sgt. Doug Sandor, one of the officers arriving at the scene.

Kovacevic,  who like anyone in Ohio is allowed to carry weapons openly without a license, went on his way. Police had received no further calls about him as of early Thursday afternoon.

Slater said Kovacevic said little during the confrontation. He said Kovacevic asked him if he were a Christian, and Slater said no.

"I told him to take his guns off," Slater said. "I told him let me have five or 10 minutes with him without his weapons."

Slater said he didn't understand why police were trying to calm him down instead of talking to Kovacevic.

"They (police) asked me why do I have a problem," Slater said. "He's a threat to me and my people. He's a threat to me."

Slater, who is black, said race played into the police's response. Kovacevic is white. And of course, he's right.

"They (police) were more concerned about me than him, as if I were the threat," Slater said. "It it were me with a gun, they would have shut the whole block down."

Lt. Rick Edwards, Akron police spokesman, rejected the allegation of bias.

"We don't look at the color of people's skin when we enforce the law," Edwards said..........

However, Edwards noted that Kovacevic -- since reports started coming in Monday about him carrying a rifle in Akron -- has been spotted in predominately black communities.

The reaction

Cleveland.com talked to several people Wednesday afternoon near the University of Akron. Most considered Kovacevic's actions unnecessary demonstrations of open carry laws. Others said guns make them feel safer.

People Wednesday told cleveland.com they believe the outcome would have been different if Kovacevic were black and compared him to Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy shot to death by police last year, after he was seen waiving an airsoft gun.

"It's different if it's a black person. People say it isn't, but it is," 26-year-old Traneece Johnson said. "[Kovacevic] was approached, and they gave him a chance to speak and say he was expressing his right. The little boy didn't get that chance."

I think he's doing it for the attention. And he's got all the attention he wants.

The law

Ohio law, while requiring a license for carrying concealed weapons, allows citizens to carry firearms openly without a license.

James Weber, chief of the University of Akron Police Department, said those rights come with restrictions.

"If the person carrying a weapon points it at objects or people, or waves it around, the person may be apprehended and face charges of inducing panic, disorderly conduct, menacing or other charges," Weber said.

Weber said citizens openly carrying weapons must stay outside school zones. They cannot take weapons into buildings, including those at the University of Akron, which ban them. Also, under Ohio law, a person must be 18 to carry a long gun and 21 to carry a handgun.

Police response 

Edwards said police don't necessarily like the open-carry law, but must enforce it. Officers receive training in responding to open-carry situations.

If officers approach someone openly carrying a gun, they will ask who they are, what they are doing and why they are there. But gun carriers are not required to respond.

"You have to be careful because you get into search and seizure issues," Edwards said. "You can't detain them.

"Ohio isn't the only state to allow open carry," Edwards said. "If you don't like it, you can talk to your legislators."


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