Larry Roberts lives in rural St. Clair Twp. and recently held two trespassers on his property captive with his 12-gauge shotgun until police arrived. Both of the suspects were later charged in connection with a homicide.
Photo: Wayne Baker/Staff
Photo: Wayne Baker/Staff

Study: Guns for protection more common with rural residents

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It turned out the two people at the end of Roberts’ shotgun, Eric Brown, 19, of the 900 block of South Second Street, Hamilton, and a 17-year-old boy, would both be charged in connection with the shooting death of a Hamilton resident earlier that evening.

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A recent Pew Research Study indicates that rural residents like Roberts are disproportionately more likely than other Americans to have a gun at home for protection.

The study also revealed that rural Americans are more than twice as likely to have a gun in the home than those living in large cities.

After Monday’s captive situation, firearms experts weighed in on why rural residents tend to have more guns and why Roberts’ actions were legally appropriate.

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Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said Roberts acted within the law and demonstrated exactly what should happen during an event like that.

“While Buckeye Firearms Association does not encourage gun owners to act as law enforcement, Mr. Roberts appears to have exercised good judgment in calling 911 and helping local police catch two criminals,” Rieck explained. “As we continue to report, the vast majority of gun owners prove again and again that they are sensible, law-abiding people.”

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Rieck added that it is also important for gun owners and the public to understand and keep up to date on the rules of gun ownership.

“You need a concealed handgun license (CHL) — strictly speaking, not a permit — in Ohio to carry a handgun concealed. Open carry of a handgun does not require a license,” Rieck said. “It’s also worth pointing out that the CHL is for handguns only. It is not a ‘weapons’ license or permit as in some other states.”

Jim Lentz, general manager of Premier Shooting & Training Center, said he believes Roberts acted correctly in the way he handled the situation. Most rural gun owners are pretty well versed in the proper way to handle shotguns, he said.

“Typically you see shotguns more for hunting out in rural areas and for skeet shooting but you can use them for protection for sure,” Lentz said. “In that situation he faced, you would never shoot first regardless because you have to be justified to use deadly force. So you can always use reasonable force to protect property and that nature.”

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He added that a person would only use deadly force to protect someone who is being severely injured, facing a life threatening injury or death.

“Roberts had every right to say ‘stay here I’m calling the police,’ but he had no right to use deadly force and he didn’t,” he said.

Roberts said his intentions the entire time when encountering the two men trespassing on his property, was to make sure his family was safe and not to cause harm or be harmed himself.

“One guy didn’t have any shoes on and they were flashing these wads of money in their hands asking for a ride because they were in a car wreck,” Roberts said. “I told them just to stay down in the driveway until police arrived.”

“They were just in the wrong neck of the woods to be playing those games,” he said.

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