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Ohio Open Carry Group Holds Rally For John Crawford

Wayne Baker

The local chapter of Ohio Open Carry hosted a rally over the weekend to protest the August 5 shooting death of John Crawford III inside of a Beavercreek Walmart. Approximately 50 people attended the demonstration, many  carrying pistols or rifles in order to educate the public about the general public's right to bear arms.

Crawford was shot and killed by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams after he responded to a 911 call that alleged a man was carrying a gun in the store and waving it around at customers in a threatening manner.

It was later determined that the gun was an air pellet rifle Crawford had gathered from a shelf. A grand jury was convened and didn't return an indictment against Williams or Sergeant David Darkow who also responded to the call. Both officers are white, and Crawford was black, which has put the issue of race front and center in discussions of the shooting.

The open carry rally, carried out under the slogan "I am John Crawford," was an attempt by the group to look at the issue of open carry in Ohio. They believe that even if Crawford's gun was real, he was well within his rights to carry as long as he wasn't in the act of committing a crime. 

“I believe that race was a factor, ignorance of the law was a factor, the caller was a factor,” said Virgil Vaduva with Ohio Open Carry, who was one of the organizers. "All of these factors combined created a really dangerous situation, but honestly that's not an excuse. I would like cops to become more educated about open carry laws. As long as you don't conceal your weapon at anytime you are perfectly legal. In Ohio you can carry openly with a few restrictions."

Local resident Joe Hanlin turned out for the Ohio Open Carry demonstration. He feels people need to read up on open carry, as well as, conceal and carry gun laws in order to gain more clarity on what is legal.

"It's about letting people know that open carry is the right to keep and bear arms, concealed carry is a privilege that's licensed by the state," Hanlin said. "So that's why I open carry and I specifically don't conceal carry and do not have a conceal carry license. There are a few restrictions that anybody that's gonna open carry needs to know about. You cannot carry loaded in your vehicle, you cannot carry in a Class D liquor establishment, you cannot carry within a 1,000 feet of a school. Anybody that's going to open carry need to make sure and that they read the law for themselves and don't take anybody's word for it."

After a Greene County special grand jury returned no indictment in the police shooting of John Crawford, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice is now reviewing the case.