The Gun Debate in Oberlin

Sally McMullen

To the Editors:

The room was packed like sardines at the Oberlin City Council Meeting on Sept. 16, and the discussion was lively. In a nutshell, there are people who want to openly carry guns in public places like parks, and there are others, like me, who are against this! If the council meeting is an indication, I am with the majority. The problem is real, and I was not aware of it until a few gun enthusiasts openly carried guns at the Oberlin Juneteenth celebration!

To make matters worse, I’m told that a couple weeks ago, an Oberlin College student carried an assault rifle into the Slow Train Cafe! Before these incidents occurred, I was unaware that Ohio law permits certain gun owners to openly carry. In other words, some gun owners can openly carry weapons in our public places, and they have the law on their side!

My opposition to the Ohio gun law is basic: I know that criminals can get their hands on guns. I know that people with severe mental problems can get their hands on guns. I know that people make mistakes, both the professionals and amateurs, and shoot the wrong person. (Does George Zimmerman come to mind?) So, if I am in a park and see a person carrying a gun, I will leave the park, since I am a practical and, in most cases, rational person. The gun carrier could be a criminal, mentally challenged or just looking for a shoot out. I think that most rational people would do the same, i.e., leave the park, especially if they are with children.

Is this a “victory” for the person carrying the gun? If so, it is a hollow victory to have citizens, including grandparents and children, leave a public place so that a gun carrier can exercise his/ her rights under the law. Some laws need to be changed, like the gun laws. The recent incidents have made that blatantly apparent to me. I found out, at the council meeting, that various churches in Oberlin are pulling together to do something about changing the Ohio gun laws. Oberlin has allies on this issue because National Rifle Asso ciation activists have taken advantage of the law being on their side to flaunt their ability to “open ly carry” in Parma, Cleveland Heights and other communities!

I believe that the open carriers are making more enemies than friends. If we join together with our allies in communities such as Parma, we can change the Ohio laws.

The Trayvon Martin case, if nothing else, should motivate us to change the current gun laws and prevent the Stand Your Ground law from being passed in Ohio. Do we really want to go back to the Wild, Wild West?

–Sally McMullen
Oberlin resident