Friday, April 30th, 2021
Lethal & Legal
A new Ohio law makes once illegal weapons OK to own
By Leslie Gartrell
Until a recently passed Ohio law, it was illegal to carry certain concealed weap. . .
CELINA - Self-defense keychains have become increasingly popular with women over the years as a way to practice self-defense and personal safety.
However, only recently did the keychains and other weapons such as brass knuckles and switchblade knives, become legal to carry in Ohio.
House Bill 140 codifies into law that knives, razors or cutting instruments not used as a weapon do not count as a "deadly weapon." The bill was introduced in 2019 and was passed in December 2020. It took effect on April 12.
The new law also allows for the manufacture, sale and possession of brass knuckles, billy clubs, blackjacks, sandbags, switchblade knives, springblade knives, gravity knives and cestuses.
A cestus is hand covering of leather bands often loaded with lead or iron and used by boxers in ancient Rome, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
The bill passed on a nearly unanimous vote in the Senate, with one Democrat opposed, and roughly on party lines in the House where five Democrats joined all Republicans voting in favor.
Until the bill's passage, self-defense keychains fell under the umbrella category of brass knuckles. The keychains are often made of plastic or metal and have sharp points.
Mercer County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Gery Thobe said although self-defense keychains seem to be common at the moment, other easily-accessible self-defense devices are available.
Thobe said the sheriff's office receives numerous calls from concerned parents seeking advice before sending their daughters off to college. Officials usually recommend pepper spray, which can be attached to a purse or keychain and ready at a moment's notice.
Some pepper spray devices can shoot streams chemicals up to 15 feet, which Thobe said he personally prefers in order to keep an attacker as far away as possible. Although a sharp self-defense keychain or pocket knife could come in handy, such weapons require the attacker to get in close.
"With weapons, you'd have to let (attackers) in reach," Thobe said.
Pepper spray is made of oleoresin capsicum, a naturally occurring substance found in the oily resin of cayenne and other varieties of peppers, according to U.S. Department of Justice. When deployed in a mist, the spicy spray incapacitates subjects by burning on the skin, restricting breathing and impairing vision.
A tried-and-true trick women have employed for years is placing keys between the fingers to act a pseudo-brass knuckle, or setting off a car alarm to scare away assailants.
Some self-defense keychains act similarly to set off loud alarms or bright, flashing lights to distract or deter attackers. Some even act as miniature stun guns or tasers.
"In reality, anything you can do to help yourself is good," Thobe said. "The world is not getting any easier to live in."
Also available are escort services or escort service apps, such as Companion, which share a person's location with a trusted person as they travel from one location to another.
The Wright State University police department's crime prevention unit has tips on how to stay safe without using weapons. One of the easiest things a person can do is to stay aware of their surroundings at all times. Walking with confidence and alertness can deter attackers. People can let friends know where they are going, keep their keys separate from their purse or bag and travel in trusted groups to stay safe as well, according to crime prevention unit tips. Also, fighting back, yelling direct commands like "stop" and "help" can alert others that someone is in trouble.
"If someone is following you, look at them so you can identify them and then change directions," crime unit information reads. "Walk toward a populated area or open business, or toward a police dispatch or fire station. Do not be afraid to yell for help."
And finally, crime unit information urges individuals to trust their gut instincts, stating "if it feels suspicious, then it is suspicious."
Also in April, Ohio became a "stand your ground" state, which removes the legal requirement that a person reasonably try to retreat from a perceived attack before responding with deadly force.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed off on the measure in January. It expands the so-called "stand your ground" right from an individual's house and car to any place, "if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be."