Gun Rights-Gun Control

Students stand up against guns and for decent housing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Inspired by students across the nation, and empowered by their efforts in this community, six students took to the podium at Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. They were seeking two basic rights – decent affordable housing, and no gun violence in their schools. Aidan Hubbell-Staeble asked City Council to use its power to push the state legislature to pass legislation on guns – something that would provide real tangible solutions to stop gun violence in schools. “Enough is enough,” he said. One by one, the other students – Carlie Pritt, Zach Davis, Hannah Barnes, Connor Froelich and Alyson Baker – stood at the podium and read aloud the names of students killed by guns in schools, starting with those at Columbine. They ended with the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, then told City Council they would return at the next meeting to continue with the names of students killed since Newtown. “The students of Bowling Green High School and Bowling Green State University will continue to fight for this issue until we see change,” said Alyson Baker. Baker was one of the organizers of the local walkout in honor of the Parkland victims. More than 300 high school and middle school students joined the walkout. Council member Bruce Jeffers explained that the city is limited in any action it can take on firearms. “It’s pretty hard to sit and listen to all those people gone under those circumstances,” Jeffers said of the victims’ names read aloud. Council member Sandy Rowland praised the students for becoming part of the governmental process. She stressed that gun violence is not a political issue, but a life or death issue. “Thank you for coming out tonight and participating,” Rowland said to the students. Council member Daniel Gordon said the problem may be that local voices are not being heard at the state level. “They’re not quite listening to us,” he said. “I would like to think that our input matters.” Gordon also criticized those who have targeted the local students for organizing a walkout and rally. “There are a lot of people who have not been kind to you in the last few weeks,” he said. Council member John Zanfardino praised the walkout effort. “Students saying ‘enough is enough’ is as good thing,” Zanfardino said. Council will discuss the students’ request, he said. On the issue of housing, Hubbell-Staeble said he and his girlfriend had very few criteria when looking for a rental – it had to be affordable; it couldn’t share a wall with a noisy neighbor like a bar; and it needed a yard so they could get a dog. They went through dozens of rentals in the First and Second wards. “We were extremely discouraged,” Hubbell-Staeble said. They encountered housing with holes in the walls, mold in the bathrooms and broken windows patched with boards. “Bowling Green is seriously lacking affordable quality housing” for families and students, Hubbell-Staeble said. He talked about a former BGSU student who loved the Bowling Green community, but ended up moving to Maumee. “He couldn’t find quality housing” in Bowling Green, Hubbell-Staeble said. Hubbell-Staeble asked City Council to “take a good hard look at homes in Bowling Green.” (A story will follow soon on City…

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BG students to join National School Walkout against gun violence

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Alyson Baker is sick of hearing about students being slaughtered in their schools. She’s not alone, so Baker and other students at Bowling Green High School are organizing a walkout to coincide with the National School Walkout on March 14. “It has a lot of us really shaken,” Baker said last week. “We’re scared and we’re fed up. We don’t want to see anybody in schools hurt because of gun violence.” The National School Walkout is planned for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. on March 14, to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than Tweet thoughts and prayers in response to gun violence in schools and neighborhoods. The walkouts are based on the following beliefs: Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school. Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. Students want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of them will vote this November and many others will join in 2020. Bowling Green’s walkout will be held on the front lawn of the high school. The public will be able to join in the event. Organizing the Bowling Green High School walkout are seniors Alyson Baker and Luther Shinew, and sophomores Keanu McClellan and Jadyn Lundquest. The local youth are being inspired by their fellow students in Parkland, Florida, who have responded to the shootings at their school with eloquence and ideas. “I’ve been to protests before, but I’ve never really led a protest,” Baker said. “It’s just so important. Now’s the time to talk about gun control.” The National School Walkout makes the following demands of Congress: Ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Expand background checks to all gun sales. Pass federal gun violence restraining order law. Fund government research on gun violence. Promote safe storage. Though young, the students are feeling empowered by their numbers. “I think this walkout is definitely going to say something,” Baker said. “I don’t think our government can ignore it. The U.S. is covered with little pins” signifying all the school walkouts. “I feel like this is something that needs to be brought to their attention,” McClellan said. “School is supposed to be the safest place.” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci and High School Principal Jeff Dever have told the students that they won’t stand in the way of the walkout. “We can’t deny these students their First Amendment rights,” Scruci said. “I’m supportive of the protest to get some attention” on the problem of school violence. Adults in the community can join in the walkout as long as it is a peaceful event, the superintendent said. While Dever does not like students leaving their classes, he supports their rights. “First of all, I don’t want to deny anyone’s First Amendment rights,” Dever said. But he added, “Our business here is to educate kids.” No matter how well organized, the walkout will be chaotic for the school. And…


“This will trample property rights of business owners” — Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton)

From OHIO HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS Ohio House Democratic lawmakers have voiced objections over House Bill (HB) 233, legislation that allows concealed carry permit holders to knowingly bring guns or deadly weapons into daycares, schools, airports, bars and other restricted spaces, so long as the permit holder leaves when asked to do so. Individuals who refuse to leave or return to the same business while carrying a prohibited weapon within 30 days will be subject to a fourth degree misdemeanor. “This isn’t just a solution looking for a problem, but it is creating a whole new set of public safety problems by overturning Ohio laws designed to keep us safe and secure,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “This will trample property rights of business owners and create confusion in secure locations like airports, police stations, schools and daycares. As a gun owner and strong second amendment supporter, I think Ohioans deserve to feel safe and secure, free from the fear of intimidation or tragedies this bill could create.” HB 233 essentially eliminates any penalty for permit holders who knowingly carry a deadly weapon in a secure area if they leave the premises upon request. “This bill will not keep our children and communities safe. In fact, it will trample on their right to be in safe public spaces that are deadly weapon-free,” said Minority Whip Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “This legislation is both irresponsible and dangerous.” The bill also modifies the list of places required to post signs notifying consumers of prohibited weapons. Under HB 233, daycares and certain government buildings are no longer encouraged to post prohibited weapon signage, and airports must alter their signage placement from the airport facility to passenger or screening checkpoints. “While the majority of Ohioans are law abiding citizens and responsible gun owners, there is always the possibility that a tragic event could happen in what should be our safest locations. This bill puts citizens and most importantly our children in harm’s way.” –Assistant Minority Leader Nick Celebrezze (D-Parma). The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.


Some of the stories that clicked for BG Indy in 2016

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If you ask those of us involved with BG Independent News, the biggest news of 2016 was that we got this enterprise started and weathered our first year. This has been a great venture that has both challenged and rewarded us, if not enriched us. We pride ourselves on writing the best stories about Bowling Green, its immediate surroundings and area arts and entertainment scene. We’ve been heartened by the fact that we’ve had close to 160,000 users and 600,000 page views since the website was launched in late January. For that Jan McLaughlin and I thank you, our readers. It’s been a great ride. As we start a new year, we thought we’d go back and see just what stories drew the most traffic in the previous one. I decided on a top 30 of the more than 1,700 stories we’ve published. That includes the bylined stories that make up the heart of BG Independent News, but also Community Voices, Opinion, Obituaries and Newsbreak (though not the event listings that get lumped into What’s Happening in Your Community). (See the list of links at the end of the story.) The story that drew the most traffic was “The day the pizza died,” which is by neither of the principle writers. The rumors of Myles Pizza closing had been in the air for well over a year. When Chip Myles finally called it quits, I was headed out of town for a funeral, so Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, from Zibbel Media and an accomplished writer, stepped in and wrote her elegy to the beloved local pizza place. While this may seem ironic that our top story was written by neither McLaughlin nor Dupont, I don’t see it that way. Zibbel Media, operated by John Roberts-Zibbel and Roberts-Zibbel, is as much responsible for launching and maintaining the BG Independent enterprise as McLaughlin and Dupont, and I’m happy to have this recognition of that contribution. Some people were celebrating the holidays by pulling their last Myles pizza out of the freezer. The opening of Pizza Pub 516 in the location with a clear intent to update the place while maintaining much of the Myles character was also of interest, placing 18th on the list. Roberts-Zibbel also wrote another top 30 story, “Sign of the times,” about a lone, masked, disgruntled protestor who camped out in front of the Bowling Green Police Station on a sizzling hot day last summer. She also had a hand in the story that drew the second most traffic, the obituary for Jordan Powell, a young man who died far too soon. His family had few resources, and though we weren’t running obituaries in May, we decided to post it. It was sad, yet gratifying, because it showed the value of the service we are providing. Schools always draw interest, and that three of the top 10 stories are school related is not surprising. The third was clicked story was  “BGHS accommodates transgender students,” followed at fifth by “Administration stands by high school soccer players right to take a knee.” Both stories touched on issues that roiled the nation as a whole this year. Yet also up there in eighth was one of those mundane issues that mean so much to families: “BG school…


BGSU mulls impact of new concealed carry provisions (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News President Mary Ellen Mazey is not planning at this point to change the Bowling Green State University’s policy against carrying concealed weapons on campus as allowed in legislation just signed by Gov. John Kasich. Senate Bill 199, which contains the provisions of House Bill 48,  broadens where the concealed weapons can be carried including to universities and child care centers. However, the board of trustees must vote to allow such an expansion of concealed carry. Mazey, at this point, will not seek such a change. University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said that the board of trustees could act on its own “if it so chooses.” David Jackson, president of the BGSU Faculty Association, said the Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors presented a resolution against expanding concealed carry, and the leadership of the BGSU union “voted in support of the resolution.” Even if no change were made, the penalty for having a concealed weapon for permit holders is being reduced in most circumstances to a misdemeanor from a felony. In a text message, Kielmeyer stated: “We’re still analyzing details of the law and the potential ramifications for our campus.” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Wood County, voted in favor of the bill as did State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green. “I did not have a concern with university boards of trustees having the ability to make this decision,” Gardner said. He said over the more than a year this bill has been debated, he did not hear from any trustee or university president opposing it. The bill simply allows campuses to have the freedom to allow certain individuals, faculty, staff or retired law enforcement officers, for instance, to have concealed weapons on campus. The same, he said, with day care centers. The law now allows owners of child care centers to have some people with concealed carry permits on the premises if they feel that would make their facility safer. Gardner added that he does not expect any colleges or universities in the state to actually loosen their restrictions on concealed carry. Asked about why no weapons are allowed in the Statehouse while restrictions are loosened elsewhere, Gardner said there is no need for anyone to carry a weapon in the Statehouse because it is heavily guarded by the Ohio state police and has metal detectors at all the entrances. The issue of safety is the fault line between those who oppose increased concealed carry on campuses, and those who favor it. Faculty members have expressed concerns in various forums about the possibility of disgruntled students with weapons. The Ohio AAUP resolution contends more guns would make campuses more dangerous. Supporters of concealed carry say the presence of trained individuals with weapons would make campuses safer. The open carry of weapons is allowed on campus, though they cannot be brought inside buildings.


Former BGSU chief talks about OSU attack response

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Monica Moll, formerly the police chief at BGSU, was on the job about a month at Ohio State University when her new campus came under attack. On Monday, a man plowed his car into a group of people and then pulled out a knife and charged at victims. Eleven people were hospitalized after the attack. Within a couple minutes, the attacker, student Abdul Razak Ali Artan, had been shot and killed by OSU Police Officer Alan Horujko. The incident was resolved in about the best possible manner, said Moll, now the director of public safety at OSU. “We had an officer in the right place at the right time,” she said on Thursday. Horujko had been responding to a report of a possible gas leak in the area of the attack. The officer credited his training for his quick response. “It all went according to planning,” Moll said. The university’s active shooter training and campus alert system are being credited for helping the community maintain order while the scene was secured. The campus is one of the largest in the U.S., with nearly 60,000 registered students. Law enforcement from the region responded, with officers arriving from Columbus police and fire departments, Ohio State Patrol, ATF, FBI, Homeland Security, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and other nearby campuses. OSU Police Chief Craig Stone said his officers train annually to handle active shooters, on defensive tactics and firearms. “The good news is, they have a well-oiled machine down here,” Moll said. The dispatch center was bombarded with reports and questions as the incident unfolded. “They were flooded with calls,” she said. “The dispatchers did an excellent job.” Stone said students and staff have been urged to report problems. “We encouraged people to call us,” he said. That vigilance is even more heightened on campus now. “If you see something, say something.” It wasn’t just the emergency responders whose training kicked in, but also students and faculty who had been trained for a violent incident. The campus offers a training video called “Surviving an Active Shooter.” The training is not mandated for students, faculty or staff, but the video has logged more than 350,000 views. “It really applies to any emergency,” Moll said. A campus alert sent out moments after the attack warned those on campus to “Run, Hide, Fight.” The training had prepared students to flee from the danger if they could, hide in place if they could not run, and fight if necessary. Cell phone photos sent out from campus showed students who had stacked up chairs and desks in front of classroom doors to barricade themselves in and keep out an attacker. Moll said BGSU uses the ALICE training program, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. “They are all similar principles,” she said. The attack on OSU’s campus has revived talk by the state legislature about allowing college campuses to decide if they want to allow students, faculty and staff to carry firearms. Moll said she could not comment on whether a policy like that would have made law enforcement’s job more difficult on Monday. “But we are closely monitoring that, in case it changes,” she said of possible legislation. The campus and law enforcement response to Monday’s attack is…


Finding middle ground in the debate over guns

By SHANE HUGHES   As a child, I spent every other weekend on 47 acres of wooded hills in Laurel, Indiana with my grandparents and three cousins. Loaded rifles and shotguns lined the walls of my grandfather’s office and lay haphazardly on the kitchen table or leaned against the railing of the back porch. My earliest memories involve my grandfather gently shaking me awake in the pre-dawn hours of the night, dressing in warm woodland camouflage overalls, and following my grandfather as he taught me how to track and stalk deer in autumn. It was these early years which taught me to respect guns of every kind. As a teenager, I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. There I learned to disassemble and reassemble an M16A2 rifle in lightning quick time under the stressful presence and watchful eye of a drill instructor wearing a Smoky Bear campaign cover. I learned how to clean and care for my rifle by applying generous quantities of CLP and the judicious scrubbing of a cleaning brush similar to a hard-bristle toothbrush. I learned how to hit a man-sized silhouette target from 500 yards using only bare iron sights. As a young man, I deployed to Fallujah, Iraq where I fought against a terrorist insurgency in 2006 and again in 2008. It was there I experienced the terrible consequences of guns – and other weapons of war – when people use them against one another. Just before I left the Marine Corps in 2009, I experienced profound and intense anxiety issues. A friend recommended visiting a pistol range, where I unloaded my first magazine of 9mm rounds in a rage. Realizing I missed nearly every shot at a laughably easy range, I forced myself to control my breathing and steady myself, slowing down to aim each shot and pull the trigger with a slow, steady squeeze. All the rounds from the next magazine were grouped in a pattern no larger than a silver dollar. It was the first of many visits to the pistol range. These visits helped me achieve a state of calm I can only think to compare to the moment of zen people achieve through yoga. My anxiety issues disappeared completely after a few months. It is because of all these experiences that I find myself in a unique position regarding the debate over the 2nd amendment and gun regulations in America; a debate with little to no middle ground between Republicans and Democrats. It is long past time that we put aside these titles we attach to ourselves and others, and try to reach a consensus of mutual understanding and respect for on another’s viewpoints. There was little to no consensus, understanding or respect during the recent panel on gun violence held Oct. 27th, at the Wood County Public Library. The first thing people need to understand is gun culture is deeply ingrained in many places in this country. Places like Laurel, Indiana or Bowling Green, Ohio. Many people respect guns and handle them with care, and feel they should not be punished because of the high profile instances of mass shootings highlighted in the national headlines. These people are not wrong. If they haven’t committed any crime which would prohibit them from lawfully possessing a gun, then their rights should…