Candidates for Defiance County sheriff shared similar thoughts on Second Amendment rights at the Defiance County Fish and Game Club Thursday night.
About 100 persons attended the event at the club, located northwest of Defiance on Ohio 15.
Republican Doug Engel and write-in Steve Flory — campaigning to replace David Westrick, who is not seeking a ninth term — were invited to speak at the club’s regular meeting Thursday.
A former sheriff’s deputy, Flory opened, quoting founding fathers George Washington and John Adams in defending the Second Amendment and its provision for allowing the citizenry to bear arms. Specifically, he noted Adams’ remark that the amendment assures the “private self-defense” of citizens.
“How often do we run into someone who doesn’t think private self-defense is part of (the Second Amendment)?, asked Flory. “Baloney. That’s exactly what it’s there for — for you and I to protect ourselves.”
While pledging “to stand with you guys,” on the Second Amendment, Flory mentioned the passage of a conceal carry law in Ohio some years ago, saying he’d like it to be a little less restrictive. And, he noted the misperceptions some apparently have with conceal carry laws across the country.
Flory explained that approximately 33,000 people are killed annually in traffic crashes nationally, then asked the audience how many have been killed by conceal carry permit holders during the past 10 years. According to a “very leftist” Internet website, he said the figure is 885, including suicides.
“We’re more dangerous to ourselves and others when we are just driving down the road everyday,” Flory said, adding that the conceal carry holder is there to protect himself, his family “and you.”
“... I think a lot of Second Amendment naysayers just are not educated enough to realize a good upstanding citizen ... is doing (conceal carry) for their own purposes,” Flory said.
Engel, who is Westrick’s chief deputy, said “we in the sheriff’s office will always protect your Second Amendment rights.” In talking with other Ohio sheriffs, the feeling is the same, he indicated. “We’re not going to take away anyone’s firearms,” he pledged, unless someone has committed a crime.
He also pointed to the guarantee of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures as well as the 14th, which requires that “states will adhere to federal law or vice versa, meaning everyone has protection of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.”
“I will guarantee you ... nobody — absolutely nobody — is going to enter your house and remove our firearms,” Engel said. “The only exception is if you have committed a crime with that firearm.”
In stating this, Engel suggested a militant stance if Second Amendment rights were changed by the U.S. Supreme Court. At present, he noted the court has been friendly to these rights with rulings in 2008 and 2010, but cautioned that this could change after the next presidential election.
“Our next president is going to have the ability to appoint three (Supreme Court) justices, maybe five,” Engel said. “... We need to get smart here. ... The Supreme Court has been very protective, but if we make a mistake and don’t elect the right person, we’re in trouble — all of us.”
After addressing Second Amendment concerns, each candidate also spoke about their own resumes.
Flory noted his eight years as a deputy and 13 as a sergeant/supervisor with the sheriff’s office. But he said he had to resign (in April) when he decided to run for sheriff.
“It was a very tough decision to make after 20 years,” said Flory, also noting that he has been a firearms and conceal carry instructor and involved in the sheriff office’s active shooter training.
Too, Flory made mention of his grandfather, Don Kehnast, who was elected Defiance County sheriff in November 1964, but died in December that year before he could take office.
“I’d really like to pick up where he left off and continue on,” said Flory.
Engel explained that he was hired as a deputy in 1984 and worked his way through the ranks, saying he has “held every position of rank in the sheriff’s office.”
Most recently, he was the director of the Multi-Area Narcotics Task Force — which is overseen by the sheriff’s office — but stepped down after 14 years to resume chief deputy duties.
He added that it’s important who is a “leader in the community” and at the sheriff’s office and “who has throughout their career spent time learning the office of sheriff.”
Concerning conceal carry permits issued by the sheriff’s office, he said the wait time has been reduced from 30-45 days initially to seven-10 days.
During a brief question period, one person wanted to know why Flory had to resign to run for office, but Engel did not.
The reason, Engel explained, is that he became an unclassified employee of the sheriff’s office when he became a lieutenant (some years ago), thus forfeiting protection by the State Employee Relations Board. Flory was a classified employee.
Engel said he had “decided a long time ago I was going to run for the position of sheriff.”
“I’d love to be working there (at the sheriff’s office) right now,” commented Flory to the same question. “... for me to take part in politics I had to resign.”
Another person asked what would happen if the Supreme Court made a decision that changed Second Amendment rights.
“No one’s going to take my guns, period,” said Engel. “They’re not going to take our guns. As sheriff I’m not going to get your guns ... .”
“I’m telling you the same thing,” added Flory.
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