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Thread: Just **thrown off** a Cincinnati Metro bus while legally carrying my firearm!

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    Accomplished Advocate BB62's Avatar
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    Just **thrown off** a Cincinnati Metro bus while legally carrying my firearm!

    First, some background...

    Cincinnati SORTA is the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority. "Metro" is the name of the bus component of SORTA.

    Cincinnati's latest waste of taxpayer money is the "streetcar", which runs on steel rails and is powered by overhead electricity. It was due to start running this past summer, and an out-of-state friend of mine indicated that he thought he saw that they were going to post 'No Guns' signage. So, I used the streetcar's feedback page to ask "Are people allowed to carry firearms on the streetcar?" (8/9/16)

    My query got an initial response (8/12) of "In consultation between Metro and the City, it has been determined that weapons are not allowed on the streetcar. The policy is the same as Metro bus." As you might expect, that produced a records request from me a number of e-mails about the delayed response, finally culminating in a response (9/2) from Andrew Garth, Cincinnati's Chief Counsel for Transportation and Major Infrastructure; copying in another Cincinnati attorney and I believe two transportation people.

    Mr. Garth's response in part:

    "Thank you for your email inquiry regarding carrying of firearms on the streetcar. I apologize for not responding sooner. I am writing to let you know that the City is in the process of performing a records search and review to determine if there are any documents responsive to your request, which I’ve replicated below along with status updates. We are also using your request as an opportunity to educate persons working on streetcar matters about Ohio’s open carry and concealed carry laws.

    As an initial matter, I want to clarify that the streetcar is operated by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, not the City of Cincinnati. The City has no formal policy or ordinance applicable to the carrying of firearms on the streetcar. Accordingly, I must clarify that Mr. Deatrick’s prior email response to you concerning SORTA’s weapons policies in connection with Metro bus was a good faith effort to provide you with helpful information, but his response regarding the applicability of Metro bus policies to the streetcar was premature. If SORTA in its capacity as operator of the streetcar establishes a streetcar-related protocol concerning firearms (to my knowledge, they have not adopted any such policy), the City anticipates that such a policy will take into account applicable Ohio law – including open carry and concealed carry rights. At this time, the Cincinnati Police representatives involved in City streetcar matters are aware of your inquiry and have indicated that they will not interfere with the right to open carry or concealed carry on streetcars consistent with Ohio law. (Note, however, that the revised code (ORC 2923.16) does limit the manner of open on motor vehicles, including in the public transit context.) ..."

    I finally received a meaningful response to my records request (10/10), including a document which shows what I believe to be Metro's willingness to be sneaky about their firearms policy (I'll save everyone the detail), which prompted yet another note to Mr. Garth, et al, on 10/11. I haven't received a response to my note yet.

    So... that's the background.

    The next post is my e-mail to various parties, including Mr. Garth, the other Cincinnati attorney, and the transportation people.

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    E-mail sent moments ago to Mr. Garth, the other Cincinnati lawyer, and the two transportation people:

    Gentlemen & Ms. Hardin,

    I’m not sure who to address this to at SORTA/Metro, so I’ve addressed it to multiple people. I’ve cced officers from CPD because I want to compliment their staff.

    This afternoon (10/18/16) at 1:25 PM I boarded an outbound route 19 bus at the intersection of E. McMillan & Vine Street. Boarding with me were two older black gentlemen, one with multiple white bags (of groceries?), the other a fellow with I believe an Air Force Veteran hat. I was wearing khaki shorts, a white shirt with blue horizontal stripes, and a single handgun openly carried in a retention holster on my right hip.

    I had a transfer ticket that I gotten from the last bus I was on, and as I boarded I asked the driver (a black female) what I should do with it, since I haven’t been on a bus in a number of years. The bus driver instructed me where to insert the ticket and I did so. Nothing further was said by either of us. The bus was pretty full, but I spotted an open seat in the middle back of the bus, where I sat.

    The bus proceeded down Vine Street, stopped once I believe, then turned left on W. Nixon, then right on Jefferson Avenue. The bus stopped at Jefferson & Ruther and a black man in a white shirt (who I presumed to be a supervisor, and was later identified to me as Damien Scearce) got on the bus and motioned to me, saying (I think) “I need you to come up here”, and I said “No, come on back”. He got off the bus, I continued to sit in my seat, and to my shock some of the passengers said ‘These Metro people are so stupid! If you have a license you can carry on the bus!”. Others protested the delay, so I got up and walked to the front of the bus. The supervisor got back on and said “The police are coming”, to which I responded “Good”, and remained on the bus.

    At some point during our initial contact (before I deboarded) I told Mr. Scearce that he should get ahold of his superiors because he clearly didn’t know the law, but he responded that he had already done so.

    Not wanting to be left in Clifton when my car was in Mt. Airy, and unsure how the CPD officers would handle the matter, I placed a call to 911 (1:39 PM) and asked to be connected to Asst. Chief Neudigate, who I know knows Ohio law. Since I was still on the bus, and it was hard for me to hear, I think I was connected to the Chief’s secretary, who told me that both the Chief and the Asst. Chief were out of town.

    An officer (later identified at T. Campbell, PS600, District 5) came to the door of the bus, told me that he knew I was legally carrying, and asked me to get off the bus. I told him that I didn’t want to, I wanted to get home. He said he would take me home once matters were resolved, so I got off. During my initial contact with Officer Campbell, and during our subsequent conversation, he made it clear that “we” (CPD) knew the law, but that Metro’s policy was ‘No guns on the bus unless the person is in uniform”.

    I offered Officer Campbell my Concealed Handgun License and ID, which I believe he looked over and gave back to me, then later asked for them again because the Metro Supervisor asked for my information. I didn’t mind giving it at the time, but the more I think about it, I want my personal information eliminated from SORTA/Metro’s records.

    Shortly after I got off the bus, one of the older gentlemen (the veteran) I boarded with was ordered to get off by the bus driver. I believe she said something to the effect of “This bus isn’t going anywhere until you get off!”. I asked him what had happened and he said that he had merely said ‘When are we going to move?’ I think the bus driver’s decision was one of spite. I asked one of the CPD officers if she was going to ensure that he got home, and she said that the Metro supervisor would see to it.

    Mr. Scearce was completely unhelpful and unwilling to give his name, even moving around when I tried to read his name badge. I only confirmed what I thought I read on his name badge because of the intervention of Officer Campbell. He listed his number as 632-7550.

    I briefly spoke to the UC Police Officer (young, white male) who arrived as matters were concluding, then Officer Campbell drove me to my car in Mt. Airy.

    The CPD officers on-scene were clearly aware of the law, conducted themselves professionally, and have my compliments. I believe there were a total of three CPD officers near the bus, and two more who arrived and either left or stayed in their vehicles.

    On the other hand, gentlemen & Ms. Hardin – you have some decisions to make/serious work to do. First, my e-mail below (10/11/16) has not been responded to, so I’m left to wonder why it is that Mr. Scearce’s inquiry of his superior(s) came back with ‘No guns on buses unless one is in uniform”. That begs the question: Is Metro’s apparent policy in conflict with Ohio law as I’ve described it, or does Metro have a training issue?

    I’m sure you can imagine what I might request if various people insist on forcing me to do a number of records requests – both of Metro and of the CPD. I also have my own audio recording.

    1) I want SORTA/Metro’s policy clearly spelled out so I can proceed as appropriate, or 2) if SORTA/Metro’s policy is silent on the matter of firearm carry on buses (& the trolley), as is indicated by the absence of signage on the interior and exterior of the buses I rode on today, I want, at minimum, a copy of the training material used to bring all line and supervisory staff up to speed on the law and SORTA/Metro policy.

    I hope and expect I will receive a prompt reply to this e-mail.


    me

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    An officer (later identified at T. Campbell, PS600, District 5) came to the door of the bus, told me that he knew I was legally carrying, and asked me to get off the bus. I told him that I didn’t want to, I wanted to get home. He said he would take me home once matters were resolved, so I got off. During my initial contact with Officer Campbell, and during our subsequent conversation, he made it clear that “we” (CPD) knew the law, but that Metro’s policy was ‘No guns on the bus unless the person is in uniform”.
    All this just so you could get to ride in a police car. Did the officer let you play with the lights and siren?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BB62 View Post
    E-mail sent moments ago to Mr. Garth, the other Cincinnati lawyer, and the two transportation people:

    Gentlemen & Ms. Hardin,

    I’m not sure who to address this to at SORTA/Metro, so I’ve addressed it to multiple people. I’ve cced officers from CPD because I want to compliment their staff.

    This afternoon (10/18/16) at 1:25 PM I boarded an outbound route 19 bus at the intersection of E. McMillan & Vine Street. Boarding with me were two older black gentlemen, one with multiple white bags (of groceries?), the other a fellow with I believe an Air Force Veteran hat. I was wearing khaki shorts, a white shirt with blue horizontal stripes, and a single handgun openly carried in a retention holster on my right hip.

    I had a transfer ticket that I gotten from the last bus I was on, and as I boarded I asked the driver (a black female) what I should do with it, since I haven’t been on a bus in a number of years. The bus driver instructed me where to insert the ticket and I did so. Nothing further was said by either of us. The bus was pretty full, but I spotted an open seat in the middle back of the bus, where I sat.

    The bus proceeded down Vine Street, stopped once I believe, then turned left on W. Nixon, then right on Jefferson Avenue. The bus stopped at Jefferson & Ruther and a black man in a white shirt (who I presumed to be a supervisor, and was later identified to me as Damien Scearce) got on the bus and motioned to me, saying (I think) “I need you to come up here”, and I said “No, come on back”. He got off the bus, I continued to sit in my seat, and to my shock some of the passengers said ‘These Metro people are so stupid! If you have a license you can carry on the bus!”. Others protested the delay, so I got up and walked to the front of the bus. The supervisor got back on and said “The police are coming”, to which I responded “Good”, and remained on the bus.

    At some point during our initial contact (before I deboarded) I told Mr. Scearce that he should get ahold of his superiors because he clearly didn’t know the law, but he responded that he had already done so.

    Not wanting to be left in Clifton when my car was in Mt. Airy, and unsure how the CPD officers would handle the matter, I placed a call to 911 (1:39 PM) and asked to be connected to Asst. Chief Neudigate, who I know knows Ohio law. Since I was still on the bus, and it was hard for me to hear, I think I was connected to the Chief’s secretary, who told me that both the Chief and the Asst. Chief were out of town.

    An officer (later identified at T. Campbell, PS600, District 5) came to the door of the bus, told me that he knew I was legally carrying, and asked me to get off the bus. I told him that I didn’t want to, I wanted to get home. He said he would take me home once matters were resolved, so I got off. During my initial contact with Officer Campbell, and during our subsequent conversation, he made it clear that “we” (CPD) knew the law, but that Metro’s policy was ‘No guns on the bus unless the person is in uniform”.

    I offered Officer Campbell my Concealed Handgun License and ID, which I believe he looked over and gave back to me, then later asked for them again because the Metro Supervisor asked for my information. I didn’t mind giving it at the time, but the more I think about it, I want my personal information eliminated from SORTA/Metro’s records.

    Shortly after I got off the bus, one of the older gentlemen (the veteran) I boarded with was ordered to get off by the bus driver. I believe she said something to the effect of “This bus isn’t going anywhere until you get off!”. I asked him what had happened and he said that he had merely said ‘When are we going to move?’ I think the bus driver’s decision was one of spite. I asked one of the CPD officers if she was going to ensure that he got home, and she said that the Metro supervisor would see to it.

    Mr. Scearce was completely unhelpful and unwilling to give his name, even moving around when I tried to read his name badge. I only confirmed what I thought I read on his name badge because of the intervention of Officer Campbell. He listed his number as 632-7550.

    I briefly spoke to the UC Police Officer (young, white male) who arrived as matters were concluding, then Officer Campbell drove me to my car in Mt. Airy.

    The CPD officers on-scene were clearly aware of the law, conducted themselves professionally, and have my compliments. I believe there were a total of three CPD officers near the bus, and two more who arrived and either left or stayed in their vehicles.

    On the other hand, gentlemen & Ms. Hardin – you have some decisions to make/serious work to do. First, my e-mail below (10/11/16) has not been responded to, so I’m left to wonder why it is that Mr. Scearce’s inquiry of his superior(s) came back with ‘No guns on buses unless one is in uniform”. That begs the question: Is Metro’s apparent policy in conflict with Ohio law as I’ve described it, or does Metro have a training issue?

    I’m sure you can imagine what I might request if various people insist on forcing me to do a number of records requests – both of Metro and of the CPD. I also have my own audio recording.

    1) I want SORTA/Metro’s policy clearly spelled out so I can proceed as appropriate, or 2) if SORTA/Metro’s policy is silent on the matter of firearm carry on buses (& the trolley), as is indicated by the absence of signage on the interior and exterior of the buses I rode on today, I want, at minimum, a copy of the training material used to bring all line and supervisory staff up to speed on the law and SORTA/Metro policy.

    I hope and expect I will receive a prompt reply to this e-mail.


    me
    would you mind Sharing. the email addresses you have for those you contacted at SORTA. if like to make a query as well. we are planni g to spend some time in Cindy over the holidays and I'm interested in asking if I'll be allowed to open carry and see what they say

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    Quote Originally Posted by color of law View Post
    All this just so you could get to ride in a police car. Did the officer let you play with the lights and siren?
    No, but he did move his "stuff" so I could sit in the front seat - rather than in the back, where I usually am!

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    Quote Originally Posted by caleb4387 View Post
    would you mind Sharing. the email addresses you have for those you contacted at SORTA. if like to make a query as well. we are planni g to spend some time in Cindy over the holidays and I'm interested in asking if I'll be allowed to open carry and see what they say
    I didn't e-mail SORTA, I posted a query on the streetcar site, but all of the other communications I've had were with people (lawyers & managers) who work for the City of Cincinnati.

    You could try this "Contact Us" link at Metro: http://www.go-metro.com/contact-us

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    Quote Originally Posted by BB62 View Post

    An officer (later identified at T. Campbell, PS600, District 5) came to the door of the bus, told me that he knew I was legally carrying, and asked me to get off the bus. I told him that I didn’t want to, I wanted to get home. He said he would take me home once matters were resolved, so I got off. During my initial contact with Officer Campbell, and during our subsequent conversation, he made it clear that “we” (CPD) knew the law, but that Metro’s policy was ‘No guns on the bus unless the person is in uniform”.
    **************************************
    SNIP, jump to further in BB62's e-mail...


    The CPD officers on-scene were clearly aware of the law, conducted themselves professionally, and have my compliments. I believe there were a total of three CPD officers near the bus, and two more who arrived and either left or stayed in their vehicles.

    On the other hand, gentlemen & Ms. Hardin – you have some decisions to make/serious work to do. First, my e-mail below (10/11/16) has not been responded to, so I’m left to wonder why it is that Mr. Scearce’s inquiry of his superior(s) came back with ‘No guns on buses unless one is in uniform”. That begs the question: Is Metro’s apparent policy in conflict with Ohio law as I’ve described it, or does Metro have a training issue?
    I'd love to see if that "unless in uniform" policy is written just like that, rather than 'law enforcement in uniform' or the like. Our society is full of different kinds of uniforms, from military to cocktail waitress to exterminator to..well, you get the idea. And, Halloween is just around the corner, any OC advocacy bus rides could double as costume contests.

    "Unless in uniform"..if it's really stated like that, whoever wrote it should be inspecting the undersides of buses, while they're in operation and moving.
    Last edited by Brian D.; 10-19-2016 at 12:50 PM. Reason: Cut down quoted part for brevity.

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    E-mail to various SORTA directors & presumed outside counsel

    Yesterday the Cincinnati police were contacted and I was thrown off a Metro bus (details below), apparently because of one or both of the following:

    1) SORTA/Metro’s illegal, misleading firearm policy
    2) Poor communications and/or employee training regarding SORTA/Metro’s firearm policy

    This is simply unacceptable.

    Since I will be using Metro (buses & trolleys) again, I expect SORTA/Metro to *promptly* take steps so circumstances don’t repeat themselves.

    A repeat of this incident, regardless of who the passenger may be, could conclude in a far less satisfactory manner.

    I strongly suggest it would be prudent for SORTA/Metro to expeditiously bring its policies and employee training in line with Ohio law.

    I look forward to your prompt response.


    me

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    careful....

    Quote Originally Posted by BB62 View Post
    A repeat of this incident, regardless of who the passenger may be, could conclude in a far less satisfactory manner.
    We know what you meant, and you know what you meant, but it's very possible that some hysterical anti working for SORTA will infer "conclude in a far less satisfactory manner" means "result in me getting homicidally angry and taking out my frustrations on everyone around me in a hail of bullets from my scary black assault weapon." You could get another conversation with the police.
    Guns don't kill people. Drivers on cell phones do.

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    In any case, all doubt has been removed now!
    Hail TRUMP Victory. Hail TRUMP Sieg! Hail TRUMP Siegreich!

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    My crystal ball sees many good things in your future BB62: new motorcycle, red convertible, or maybe a luxury cruise.......compliments of Metro.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eeyore View Post
    We know what you meant, and you know what you meant, but it's very possible that some hysterical anti working for SORTA will infer "conclude in a far less satisfactory manner" means "result in me getting homicidally angry and taking out my frustrations on everyone around me in a hail of bullets from my scary black assault weapon." You could get another conversation with the police.
    That's a fair point, but since three of the recipients of the e-mail were two City of Cincinnati attorneys who I've spoken with multiple times, as well as the Asst. Chief of the Cincinnati Police Department, who knows me, has met me, has spoken on the phone with me, has quelled Cincinnati City Council's concerns about an open carry event I organized at Cincinnati Pride, etc. etc. - I kinda doubt that such speculation would get very far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    My crystal ball sees many good things in your future BB62: new motorcycle, red convertible, or maybe a luxury cruise.......compliments of Metro.
    I wish! LOL

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    Response from SORTA/Metro!

    Darryl Haley, Executive Vice President of SORTA/Metro, sent me this e-mail at about 3:30 today:

    Subject: Request for Information (huh?)

    Mr. Smith,

    Thank you for bringing this incident to our attention. Please know that we are currently in the process of reviewing our policies regarding weapons on SORTA/Metro property to ensure compliance with state law. In addition, as part of our continuing training of all of our employees, we will ensure that our employees are aware of these state laws and how to properly handle these incidents in the future.

    Thank you,

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    My reply

    Subject: SORTA/Metro "weapons" policy + further conversations


    Mr. Haley,

    I appreciate your note, but it’s disappointing that 1) it includes no apology for my experience (described at length) on Tuesday, and 2) that you responded at greater length and detail to another person who merely inquired about SORTA/Metro’s policy regarding the open carrying of firearms (which is what I was doing) on buses.

    Your response to that person was as follows:

    “I was provided a copy of Customer Service’s below email response to you concerning SORTA’s policy on concealed carry in connection with Metro buses. While I believe customer service made a good faith effort to provide you with a quick response, the response was incomplete.

    Therefore, I wanted to expand on that response and address your specific question regarding concealed firearms.

    It is SORTA’s policy that, unless otherwise authorized by law, no weapon is allowed on SORTA’s buses. In addition, any authorized firearm or concealed handgun must be carried and transported in accordance with the law, including Ohio Revised Code §§ 2923.16 and 2923.126.

    We are currently in the process of reviewing any policy regarding weapons on SORTA/Metro property to ensure compliance with applicable laws. We will be happy to provide you with the policy once that review is complete.”


    Nonetheless, and as you may know, yesterday I had what I considered a productive conversation with Andrew Garth regarding SORTA/Metro’s previously unpublished, unposted, and evidently unknown to various levels of employees “weapons” policy.

    I look forward to further productive conversations with Mr. Garth as well as members of your outside counsel, and hope for a mutually agreeable conclusion to those conversations.


    Regards,

    me

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    [QUOTE=BB62;2204381]I didn't e-mail SORTA, I posted a query on the streetcar site, but all of the other communications I've had were with people (lawyers & managers) who work for the City of Cincinnati.

    You could try this "Contact Us" link at Metro: http://www.go-metro.com/contact-us[/QUok thank ya much

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    Isn't Ohio a preempted state?
    Guard with jealous attention the public liberty.
    Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.
    Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force.
    Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
    -Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratification Convention, June 5, 1788

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeSchaine View Post
    Isn't Ohio a preempted state?
    Yes, of course it is. That is the source of the problem here. If Ohio did not have firearms preemption, there would be no dispute. Dayton RTA has been in violation for years and is resistant to any change. They refuse to obey the preemption law.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

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    "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

    Samuel Adams









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    Quote Originally Posted by DeSchaine View Post
    Isn't Ohio a preempted state?
    I would only add to Gutshot's explanation that our pre-emption law in Ohio has virtually NO enforcement "teeth".

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    Quote Originally Posted by gutshot View Post
    ... Dayton RTA has been in violation for years and is resistant to any change. They refuse to obey the preemption law.
    I can guarantee you that they will when I (and others behind the scenes) am done with them.

    They are arrogant $@#'s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BB62 View Post
    I can guarantee you that they will when I (and others behind the scenes) am done with them.

    They are arrogant $@#'s.
    I have no doubts there. Once you get started on something it gets done. Easy or difficult, sooner or later it gets done. Their arrogance will be their undoing.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

    William Pitt



    "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

    Samuel Adams









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    Quote Originally Posted by gutshot View Post
    I have no doubts there. Once you get started on something it gets done. Easy or difficult, sooner or later it gets done. Their arrogance will be their undoing.
    Agree 100% - With just a little bit of help from us, we can will getter done.
    Last edited by Grapeshot; 10-24-2016 at 06:05 AM.
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    Well, if they wont listen to reason, then a court case may be the only way. Up here in MI, it took a long one to force the Capitol Area District Library to come to terms with the fact they couldn't ban firearms under current law.
    Guard with jealous attention the public liberty.
    Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.
    Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force.
    Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
    -Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratification Convention, June 5, 1788

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    I will bet that Cincinnati will get done without going to court.

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    Quote Originally Posted by color of law View Post
    I will bet that Cincinnati will get done without going to court.

    Yes, it won't need to go to court. BB62 and cohorts, will publicly embarrass them into complying. Don't think that maintaining these preposterous positions doesn't take a toll on the people that must justify them. Friends, family, business associates ask, WTF? Even the ones that believe there is no place for guns on public transportation will wonder how they can claim to be private property. It becomes an embarrassment for them to have to explain it over and over. It will just fall apart, eventually. I know that the matter with CDLA in Michigan didn't work out that way, but those people were hard core leftist. I don't see any of that here. These people are very arrogant and think they know better that the state legislature and ignore the constitution, but I think they will be forced to see that they are wrong, eventually. They won't like it, but will finally accept it.
    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

    William Pitt



    "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

    Samuel Adams









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