VAN WERT — Persian Gulf War veteran James Redmon was in a different fight Monday, in a courtroom battling for his right to carry a concealed handgun.
He was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder more than six years ago. Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach cited PTSD as the reason he denied Redmon a concealed handgun license in a March 6 letter.
The 44-year-old Redmon said Riggenbach misinterpreted the law and he should get his license.
The matter was argued in a courtroom Monday and as it turns out, there’s a little more to the story.
Redmon was once charged with two felonies, aggravated burglary and aggravated assault. The burglary charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault as part of a procedure that allowed him to accept treatment in lieu of conviction. After successfully completing treatment the conviction never was entered so there is no felony on his record that would disqualify him.
Riggenbach said Monday he also took Redmon’s criminal history into consideration when making his decision even though he does not have a conviction.
“I did the right thing based on what the law tells me to do,” Riggenbach said.
But Redmon said there’s more to the 2006 criminal case that is not a conviction.
“I was a combat vet who beat up a drug dealer trying to save someone’s life,” he said.
Redmon said he warned a drug dealer to stay away from someone and was trying to keep that person from using drugs. The dealer did not listen so he kicked in the door to the drug dealer’s house and beat up the dealer.
The sheriff said the criminal history combined with the PTSD was the reason for denial.
“I’m not going to deny a concealed carry license solely on a PTSD issue,” he said. “I took the totality of all the information and circumstances that I had in front of me to make my decision.”
Riggenbach said he follows Ohio law, which says a sheriff “shall issue” a license. The "shall issue" language removes most discretion from sheriffs when issuing a concealed handgun license. He said he’s issued 276 licenses this year since he became sheriff and only has denied two.
The section of the law the sheriff cited in the letter to Redmon deals with whether a person has been committed to a mental health facility or ruled to be incompetent, neither of which apply to Redmon.
Judge Charles Steele of Van Wert Common Pleas Court asked both sides to file written legal arguments. He will make a decision sometime after that, probably in about a month.
In the meantime, Redmon said he will continue to carry a gun openly for all to see, which is legal in Ohio. He has carried that way for the past 14 years, he said.
Redmon said he is not a risk to the public.
“If I’m out on the street with a weapon the public is safer. I’m a trained expert,” he said.
Redmon decided to apply for his concealed handgun license so he could carry a loaded gun in his truck instead of separating the gun from the ammunition every time he drove his pickup truck. Ohio law allows a concealed handgun license holder to carry a loaded gun in the car.