This month’s Ordinary Guy column is probably the most important story I have ever had the privilege of putting in this magazine. Like most of you, I spend a great deal of time reading various internet sites and trying my best to keep up with current gun related news.
While perusing some of my favorite sites, I happened upon a story that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a gentleman named Michael DeBose. The story was linked through the Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC) website: www.ohioccw.org. As the story went, Mr. Michael DeBose was taking his nightly walk and was accosted by three youths, one carrying a gun. As happens to many good, law-abiding people across this country every day, Mr. DeBose became a victim of a violent, armed attack in his neighborhood while simply minding his business while trying to stay in shape.
Fortunately, the armed thugs were frightened away by neighbors and Mr. DeBose’s wife, who all came to his assistance upon hearing his screams for help. Thank God he was not harmed. The story continued that Mr. DeBose was now seeking a concealed carry license for him and his wife.
What makes this so fascinating is the fact that Mr. DeBose is not your ordinary Ohio citizen. He is better known as Ohio State Representative Michael DeBose, a Democrat representing Ohio’s District Twelve in Cleveland with 117,000 constituents. He was openly on the record as opposing Ohio’s concealed carry legislation, and in fact, voted against it twice in the legislature. He was now going on the record as having changed his mind about Ohio’s law and was now seeking the protection Ohio’s new law afforded its citizens—the very law he voted against two times.
I placed a call to Mr. DeBose’s office and was quite surprised when he returned my call and agreed to be interviewed for this publication. Mr. DeBose and I quickly developed a rapport during our subsequent calls. What follows is my conversation with him regarding a frightening, life-altering experience.
Mark Walters: Mr. DeBose, my name is Mark Walters. I represent the United States Concealed Carry Association and I am a contributing editor for Concealed Carry Magazine, the USCCA’s national publication. First of all, I would like to welcome you and introduce you to the readers of Concealed Carry Magazine and the members of the United States Concealed Carry Association and thank you very much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to talk with us tonight, sir.
Rep. DeBose: Well thank you for having me.
Mark Walters: I appreciate it very much. Representative DeBose, you’re an elected Ohio State representative. Can you tell our readers and the members of the USCCA what district you represent in Ohio and for how long you’ve represented your constituents?
Rep. DeBose: I represent District 12 in Ohio, the southeast side of Cleveland. I represent 117,000 residents. I’ve represented them for approximately seven years.
Mark Walters: Mr. DeBose that would mean that this is what term, your fourth term if I’m not mistaken?
Rep. DeBose: No. This is my third term. I have one more term left.
Mark Walters: Sir, obviously violent crime is of the utmost concern to all Americans. Obviously, that’s the case with your constituents in your district as well, I’m sure. “The Cleveland Plain Dealer l recently reported that you yourself were a victim of a violent attack. Sir, can you tell us in your own words what happened that day?
Rep. DeBose: Well, I was taking a walk from my house to the corner. I live six houses from the corner and I had just come back from Columbus where we were in session. We had just passed some important pieces of legislation. As I walked to the corner, I had no incidents. When I turned around to walk back home I was three houses from the corner. These houses are about 40 feet away from each other—but a car pulled up with a loud muffler and the driver stays in the car. Two guys get out of the passenger side, one tall, one short. The tall one had braids in his hair. He had a gun.
They started to come at me and I was about 50 to 100 feet away from them. At that point, I started to run. I knew they were up to no good so I backed up and then I started to run. I was yelling, hollering and screaming. I was yelling for my neighbor. I was yelling for my wife. I was yelling for my daughter. My wife and my daughter came outside. The short one, he heard me yelling and screaming. Other people did, too. So, he ran back to the car and they took off, they being the driver and the short one.
The tall one with the gun—he kept coming after me. Then my wife came out and she was very visible. I ran up on my neighbor’s porch and I started banging on her door and ringing the doorbell. Lights started coming on. Then he, being the one with the gun, turns around and runs up the street but the car was gone. So the driver must have looked in the mirror, saw him and then they made a U-turn, picked him up and then they came up the street. I could’ve been hurt. I could’ve been killed. I could’ve been injured. I would not be here to see my grandchildren. I might not be here to enjoy my wife. There’s no need to do that.
Mark Walters: Obviously, it was unbelievably frightening.
Rep. DeBose: Yes, it was. It was something that—it was a life-altering experience.
Mark Walters: Was your wife in any danger at the time she saw the criminals attacking you, or was she responsible in your mind for helping to frighten them off?
Rep. DeBose: Well she helped frighten them away. I don’t think she was in danger. She saved my life because there’s no telling what these guys would’ve done. Now you give them your money, your jewelry, your watches and they still kill you.
Mark Walters: Life has certainly changed on the streets in America today. Sir, it’s unfortunate over the years that the gun debate that’s raged across this country has widely been portrayed on the national level as a political debate between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. I, as a conservative leaning writer admit that I myself have politicized this debate. After hearing your story, sir, I felt it incredibly important that our readers hear from you as the readers of our magazine know that violent crime affects all walks of life and does not discriminate between political opinions in any way shape or form. What happened to you is truly a human story, not a political one. Can you tell our readers how this may have changed your views since that attack has occurred?
Rep. DeBose: Well to be honest with you, I’m not promoting guns quite honestly. I voted against concealed carry twice but when this happened—someone points a gun at you and you feel hopeless and helpless and you want some way to defend yourself and your family—then your perspective changes. Any person who has a gun pulled on them has walked in my shoes. Quite frankly, I don’t want to experience that again. I don’t want them to either. It changed my views in that I’m only dealing with me. I can’t tell other people what to do and I’m not encouraging other people to do something that I’m doing. I’m only dealing with myself. It’s in my best interest to get a gun.
Mark Walters: As members of the United States Concealed Carry Association and readers of Concealed Carry Magazine know they too have also made that decision. I have been in a similar situation and have used a gun to defend myself. Thank God I never had to fire a shot, but I’m very confident that I came home to see my two week old daughter because I was armed. Sir, as you probably now know, making the decision to carry a firearm for self-defense is a very personal one. As an elected public official your decision to do so since your incident has been made public by “The Cleveland Plain Dealer.” What are your thoughts on the publicity that you’ve received? Have you received any negative publicity?
Rep. DeBose: I’ve received some and I’ve received some support—but I’ve got more support than negative publicity. I got hammered in the papers. In Sunday’s paper about carrying a concealed weapon, there were three letters to the editor that disagree with me carrying a weapon. I got no letters that supported me. I know that letters came in to support me but they were all anti-gun letters. My wife has picked her application up, she’s filled it out and she’ll be turning it in.
Mark Walters: Have you taken the class in Ohio yet?
Rep. DeBose: No, I haven’t taken the classes yet. We haven’t taken them yet.
Mark Walters: So you are going to follow through and pick up your concealed carry permit for both you and your wife?
Rep. DeBose: Yes. Other people have inquired about it, and to be honest with you, I was told by a reporter that he was given names and numbers of people that want to offer training for myself and my wife and anybody else that I wanted to bring. So, I’ve been telling people that and I’ve been offering that service to them. There’s more interest out there than I actually thought.
Mark Walters: That’s fantastic that you’ve made that decision. Our organization obviously supports that decision. As members of the USCCA, we’ve either made the decision to carry a firearm for our own protection, or are seriously considering it. We have members on both sides. The organization stresses the vital importance of firearms training and continued training above and beyond that required by our respective states necessary to receive the permit. Not only do we feel that it promotes gun safety, but it’s also a fun activity. The shooting sports are enjoyed by millions of people across the country. Would you consider taking any additional training above and beyond what the state of Ohio requires?
Rep. DeBose: Yes. That’s mandatory. I want to become proficient in not only the firing of a firearm but the handling of it and the knowledge of it in terms of when to use it, when not to use it, how to store it and make it safe because my wife will probably get hers before I get mine. I want her to be comfortable with how to handle it—in terms of how to carry it and when to pull it—because a gun is something when you pull it you have to use it. It’s not something to play with.
Mark Walters: I can tell you right now, sir, with 100% certainty that the United States Concealed Carry Association will support you in the event that you need any information relative to additional training in Ohio. Our organization is there to support you. Sir, I want to thank you very much for your time today. I really appreciate your honesty and your candor in discussing what was a violent and very frightening incident. Are there any additional thoughts or any points that you would like to make to our readers and members?
Rep. DeBose: I would like people to understand one thing. Don’t judge people by what they do or what they don’t do. Until you’ve walked in that person’s shoes, you don’t understand what brought them to that decision. This decision has been a personal one. I’m not after anyone to be a copycat and I’m not going around starting trouble with a gun. I’m not going around asking people to get out of my way and like I’m some type of bully. The only thing I’m saying is that you have to have an equalizer on the street. These streets are dangerous. There are killers and they’re equal opportunity murderers. These people are mean-spirited and they’re evil. You have to have a way to get their attention to let them know that you’re not playing with them. Bottom line is, personally I’m not taking it anymore. We have to take our streets back. We have to take our neighborhoods back. I’m not moving. I’m not going to leave the area. I’m not going to run and I’m not going to stop taking my walks because I need the exercise. So I’m going to continue to do what I was doing and nobody’s going to stop me from doing it.
Mark Walters: If there’s anything that you need relative to concealed carry or any questions that you have regarding continued training, please feel free to let us know and we will support you in any way. Representative DeBose, I want to thank you very much sir for your valuable time today and for allowing me to bring this story to our readers.
Rep. DeBose: Okay. Well thank you very much for having me.
During my subsequent conversations with Rep. DeBose, he asked me if I could assist him with his firearm training class. I had made a list of some folks in Ohio for him to contact when he told me Mr. Jim Irvine of Buckeye Firearms Association (www.buckeyefirearms.org) had contacted him. Jim and I spoke shortly after that conversation and I informed him of my interview with Mr. DeBose. Through the dedication and hard work of many people, Jim was able to put together the necessary training for Rep. DeBose and a group of his associates, friends and neighbors. A special thanks goes out to Mr. Ken Hanson and Mr. Jim Wilson of Buckeye Firearms Association and Mr. Keith Campbell of Commence Firearms Training Academy (www.commencefire.com).
I would also like to thank Peter Pi and Elaine Pi of Cor-Bon (www.dakotaammo.net). I had contacted several ammunition manufacturers seeking a donation for the large quantity of ammunition that the class would require and Peter and Elaine were most gracious in supplying several thousand high quality rounds of various calibers used during the training class. Thanks to all of you! These fine, dedicated folks donated their valuable time and made sure that Rep. DeBose, his wife and associates received the finest firearm training that the state of Ohio has to offer.
So what makes this story so vitally important? I can tell you that Rep. DeBose and I developed a unique friendship over the next several weeks since this interview occurred, and my perspective on some things has changed. First, this is not a political story and I tried very hard to keep politics out of the conversation. The thugs who attacked Mr. DeBose did not care who he votes for, whether he is a Democrat or a Republican or what color his skin is. The fact that Michael DeBose is a politician was never known to the animals who tried to deprive him of his liberties.
What matters here is the human side of this story, that crime crosses all walks of life and is a potential threat to everyone. The fact that the major media—as well as myself—has largely portrayed guns as a Democrat vs. Republican issue seems to leave behind the importance of the human side of the debate. Yes it’s true that a general distinction can be made between the major political parties when it comes to guns and the right to keep and bear arms, but by doing so, we close our eyes to the larger canvas.
Violent crime is a personal, human story that crosses all party lines and thanks to my conversations with Rep. Michael DeBose, I for one will be more careful when I catch myself painting with a broad brush from now on.
Rep. DeBose and his wife have since applied for and received their Ohio CCW licenses.
[ Mark is the director of Gun Safety Education and a NRA Certified Instructor in three disciplines. He is the owner of 45 Caliber Transfer, LLC and 45 Caliber Transportation, Inc as well as a Second Amendment activist in his home town. Mark is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). He encourages readers to contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org ]