2003 NRA-ILA Volunteer Organization of the Year
Board of Directors
President - Jeff Garvas
Jeff Garvas is a lifelong resident of the State of Ohio living in either Cuyahoga or Summit county for most of his life. He was introduced to pistol shooting by a friend in the early 1990's and discovered Ohio was one of just a few states that prohibited carrying a firearm for self-defense. Inspired by the success of the Kentucky group KC3 and the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners (MCRGO), Garvas approached two good friends* who happened to be commissioned police officers, and others who worked behind the scenes, with the idea to create a grassroots gun rights organization named Ohioans For Concealed Carry, Inc. The goal was to make it legal to carry a concealed firearm and reform other self-defense related laws in Ohio. Garvas has appeared before the 123rd, 124th, 125th, and 126th General Assemblies on behalf of Ohioans For Concealed Carry, beginning with opposition testimony to safe-storage gun control pushed by Governor Bob Taft. (HB526, 123rd GA).
Garvas works in the Information Technology field, working for various Internet Service Providers when OFCC was formed, and used his unique understanding and access to the Internet to create one of the most expansive grassroots gun rights campaigns online. He is a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and a Redhat Certified Engineer.
Garvas is an NRA Certified Instructor in the disciplines of Basic Pistol and Personal Protection, has attended more than sixty hours of training at the Tactical Defense Institute, and has taught many license holders the material required to obtain a concealed handgun license in Ohio.
Like Bryan Torok and Travis Fasko, Garvas is a licensed Amateur Radio operator (N8YNR) and volunteers numerous hours every year for organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The March of Dimes, and other charitable organizations served by the the Northeast Ohio Medical Reserve Corps. Garvas has served as an elected Trustee with the Lake Erie Amateur Radio Association since 1998 and serves as the Communication Coordinator for the National Multiple Scelrosis Society Buckeye Chapter's Pedal to The Point bike committee, volunteering since 1993.
Executive Director, Secretary/Treasurer - Daniel White
Daniel has lived in Ohio for most of his life, leaving only to attend the University of Hartford in Connecticut where he majored in Criminal Justice with minors in Sociology and English. Daniel currently works as a Database Administrator for Willoway Nurseries. A lifelong hunter, Daniel also enjoys fishing, hiking, and camping. He also volunteers with the Lorain Area Republican Party and is the Cleveland Gun Rights Examiner.
Daniel joined Ohioans For Concealed Carry in 2002 and organized two of the Open Carry Self-Defense Walks (Lorain and Vermilion) held prior to passage of HB12. In 2004, he took over duties as Newsletter Editor, and later that same year was appointed Membership Coordinator. In 2005, he resigned as Membership Coordinator and was appointed to the Board of Directors to finish out Travis Fasko's term. This term was up for election in 2006, but no candidates declared an intention to seek nomination, so the election was suspended.
In February of 2006, OFCC launched the Firearms Freedom Podcast with Daniel as host. In addition, he assists Jeff Garvas as an administrator of the OhioCCW Forums, is a frequent contributor of news stories to the OFCC website, and coordinates both the annual Fun 'n Gun PAC fundraiser and the Party in the Park picnic.
Daniel is a NRA Training Counselor certified in Home Firearm Safety, Basic Pistol, and Personal Protection in the Home. He has completed over 100 hours of firearms training, including advancing through handgun level 5 at the Tactical Defense Institute.
Early in 1999 the founder of Ohioans For Concealed Carry came across The Kentucky Coalition For Concealed Carry, or KC3. This group managed to pass a right to carry bill in Kentucky by showing their law-makers that the citizens of their states wanted such a law. They did this by passing around a petition and collecting thousands of signatures. Since we started this project we have exceeded the number of signatures Kentucky collected in even less time.
Ohioans For Concealed Carry was formed in April of 1999 when a small group of friends, some of them police officers, decided they were fed up with the lack of progress in Ohio regarding "the right to carry". By May of 1999 the group was incorporated with the Ohio Secretary of State as a non-profit. Our first petition and website went public in June of 1999. Since then we've seen well over 500,000 requests for the various versions of our website.
We started this organization in hopes of duplicating the efforts made in Kentucky. Initially we started with a petition on legal size paper and twenty spaces for signatures. We then made a petition specifically for law enforcement officers to sign, and then a third one with only ten spaces on it to make it easier to read. We've now stopped distributing the twenty signature sheet, but we still accept it. Our first count indicated that at least 10% of those people who signed our petition were in fact police officers!
Since we started this group we have created quite a bit of noise in Ohio. As more members started to become interested we started running software to allow interested people to communicate through an email discussion group. This "mail list" has grown incredibly and is available for free to anyone interested in participating. We then ventured into writing letters to law-makers, getting involved with other Ohio and National groups who share our goals, and finding more members. As time went on we began to show up on talk radio shows all over Ohio, and we still occasionally do. We've been on television and print media, too.
Sometime in 2000 the Ohio House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee started to touch and feel legislation which would require every single firearm owner in Ohio to use trigger locks. While we remain committed to the safety of everyone -- not just children -- we strictly opposed this legislation. The bill was written very poorly and actually made it possible at one point in time for a firearm owner to be charged with a crime if a child broke into their home, stole a firearm, and injured or killed someone with the firearm. The anti-gun forces were pushing hard to pass this legisaltion. Our basic argument is that the State has no right to dictate how law-abiding firearms owners store their personal property. Instead of punishing a firearm owner after a tragedy occurs we believe properly teaching children, in a state-wide mandatory educational requirment, how to avoid and stay away from firearms when they come across them is more intelligent.
House Bill 526, or the bill which would make it very hard for home owners to store firearms withing reasonable reach for self-defense, was defeated by the amazing opposition brought to Columbus by every Statewide group we share common goals with. The NRA also played a small role in this process. Newspaper articles later went on to say the bill failed because a "right to carry concealed weapons" bill was attached to the Safe Storage bill. The truth is the issue was dropped by the Committee Chair when she realized she didn't have enough votes to get the bill out of the committee.
While this was a victory for Ohioans For Concealed Carry and all Ohio gun owners a new threat has established itself. Senator Eric Fingerhut, a man bent on disarming law-abiding citizens in an attempt to grab the spotlight of politics and emotional sensationalism, has created a Gun Safety Initiative Committee. This group is trying to place a mandatory safe storage law on the 2002 Ohio Ballot as a voter initiative. This means the anti-gun forces will be hammering the 2002 election scene with scary images of children dying because trigger locks are not mandatory. You can rest assured if Fingerhut can get this issue on the ballot it will be a major friend of the media. For more information on this issue be sure to look into these two sites, the second one being a parody: Gun Safety Ohio (dot com) and Gun Safety Ohio (dot org).
Since the beginning of our fight in the summer of 1999 the original founding members staffed quite a few gun shows in Northern Ohio, including the Summit County Show, The Medina County Show, The Ohio Gun Collector's Association, and many others. As more members came along more shows started to get staffed. Gun shows allow us to speak face to face with people who know exactly what we're fighting for. We've been able to educate people on the existing laws, existing legislation, and how to get "out of state" permits as an Ohio Resident. In the process we've collected amazing amounts of signatures and cash donations. The only way we'll be able to continue these shows is with the help of more members. We also need more people interested in speaking before groups, before law-makers in Committee, and for a variety of tasks behind the scenes operating the "business" of Ohioans For Concealed Carry.
In August of 2000 quite a few "great things" happened. First, a man named Patrick Feely had concealed carry charges against him dropped. Mr. Feely is a member of our group and has paved the way for four additional plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against numerous police departments in Hamilton County, Ohio. Their fight is simple: Ohio's laws against carrying a concealed firearm violate the Ohio Constitution. When the original temporary restraining order was filed Hamilton County was "virtually" a vermont style carry area. An appeal brought this down, but the case continues. In an effort to drum up support we held a rally on Fountain Square. This rally attracted a large amount of support, every local television station, numerous newspapers, and an amazing amount of donations and support from our members. The case is still pending due to Handgun Control, Inc. trying to become invovled, but the chances of a win in this fight are good.
In the year 2000 a smaller group of guys from within Ohioans For Concealed Carry started to construct signs inspired by the Burma Shave Sign Theory. While the normal Burma Shave Signs used to be 4-5 segments or so angled towards traffic all of our current signs are single sheets of plywood. Nearly five locations in Northern and Northwest Ohio were up by the winter of 2000, but one sign located on the Ohio Turnpike brought us lawsuit threats by The Ohio Turnpike Commission. Interestingly enough, the Ohio Turnpike Commission, while acquiring the land it needed to build the turkpike in 1954, decided to pay land owners extra money in exchange for placing bans on "advertising devices of any kind" within their deed restrictions. Excluding the OTC set back, these signs have become a serious potential for our groupd and help us attract numerous new members. When the turnpike sign came down we actually heard from people who were upset because they liked to see the sign on their way in to work!
Thank you for taking the time to read through this short history of Ohioans For Concealed Carry. If you're a member and you notice any significant information lacking please be sure to let us know. If you're new to our cause and our group please consider joining today, and tell all your friends about us!