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Video Shows Open-Carry Gun Walk in Downtown Kent

Group NEO Carry holds walks to normalize gun carry laws

Nine members of a pro firearm group recently walked through downtown Kent, handguns on their hips, to promote Ohio's open carry gun law.

The group, called NEO Carry, held a similar walk in downtown Akron. During the walks, members simply stroll through populated urban areas handing out fliers about the group and state gun laws.

Brett Pucillo, a Kent native who now teaches in the Youngstown City School district, is a co-founder of the group. Pucillo is the man carrying the camera whose voice you can hear on the video.

Pucillo said the group's goal is to promote education, and they plan to offer classes ranging from gun safety to the basics of shootings taught by instructors certified by the National Rifle Assocation.

"One of the biggest questions we get is 'Why do you do this?' ... I refer to a quote from the NRA: 'A right is like a muscle; if you don't exercise it, you will lose it,'" Pucillo said in an email.

The Kent walk was originally scheduled for Dec. 16, just two days after the deadly shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. NEO Carry rescheduled the walk to Dec. 23, 2012, at the recommendation of Kent City Councilman Garret Ferrara.

The video shows the group, which notified the Kent Police Department in advance of the event, meeting near Buffalo Wild Wings and then walking past businesses on Franklin Avenue, Main and Water streets.

Kent Safety Director William Lillich circulated information among downtown business groups prior to the demonstration to inform business owners of the potential for members of NEO Carry to walk into their stores while carrying handguns.

"The police department has no reason to feel that this organization presents any threat to the community," Lillich wrote in the advisory to business groups.

Ohio law does not regulate or prohibit residents from openly carrying firearms. Though private property owners or tenants can post notices prohibiting firearms on their premises, as many Kent businesses do.

Pucillo said that most people were distracted by holiday shopping and paid little attention to the group as it walked through downtown last month.

"Many people did not notice that we were even carrying our firearms," he said. "We passed out over 50 fliers, and the majority of people did agree to take a flier, although fewer people were willing to stop and discuss our group than in Akron. Some people were surprised to learn that open carry was legal, but hardly anyone seemed to mind."

Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lori Wemhoff said she heard from a few business owners who were grateful to receive advance notice of the event, but she didn't hear any complaints afterward.

"I never heard a thing about it," she said.

Click on this link to see a list of Kent businesses that welcome or prohibit firearms.

NEO Carry, founded in 2012, has 110 members and 125 followers of its Facebook page. The group also maintains a YouTube channel.

Pucillo established the group with his brother in 2012, according to its website, to "promote the second amendment, gun rights, and the legal carry of firearms through public demonstrations, law enforcement partnerships, online resources, firearm training courses, and education."

NEO Carry differs from larger, statewide groups such as the Buckeye Firearms Association because they focus their educational and outreach efforts in local communities, Pucillo said.

"This is not to say that we do not work with other local and state groups," he said. "Buckeye Firearms, Ohio Open Carry, and Ohioans for Concealed Carry all work together in an online presence to promote each other’s organizations and spread as much education about responsible gun ownership as possible.

"The northeast Ohio communities that we have interacted with so far have been welcoming of our group," Pucillo said. "We have received the cooperation of both Akron and Kent police departments, and they seemed to appreciate us informing them of our walks beforehand. This saves them from any undo alarm in the case that someone might call the station frightened at having seen a firearm."

NEO Carry plans more walks similar to the one held in Kent in other Northeast Ohio communities but most likely not until after the winter. The group also is working with individuals in southwest and northwest Ohio to establish similar organizations.

When approached by people critical of the group or its actions Pucillo said they try to respond politely to questions or criticism.

"We simply thank them for their time and continue walking," he said. "For those that are inclined to start a conversation on the subject ... We listen to their views and when they are done talking, we try to dispel as many myths as possible and give them proven facts."

Chris (Kit) Myers January 17, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Yes, Jeff, and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can disappear very quickly when you are not equal to the adversary who would have his/her way with you. I do not walk around in fear but I think that I should have some say in whether or not I am one of the 30,000 people who die from firearm inflicted wounds. I also think a ninety-five pound elderly person in a wheelchair should have a say in his/her fate when accosted, and be able to take down the attacker with as many bullets as it takes.
William January 17, 2013 at 06:30 PM
MaLoBrRe, Perhaps I should explain, guns are a means to keep those who would oppress our citizens from doing anything! Guns and armed Citizens do more to keep us safer than people will admit! Look at what has happened all over the world to unarmed countries, They get invaded or terrorist cells set up house and use them as bases with no one to stop them. Speech is a protected right but where speech stops and becomes something that infringes on my rights is when they put that anti rights speech into the context of laws and bills aimed at removing my rights! By all means stand and scream how you hate guns fine by me but don't try passing laws to take away that right!
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! January 18, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Every one of us preys upon his neighbor, and yet we herd together.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! January 18, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Guns kill. Yep. That's all they do. Soon America will look like all the photos of the middle east that are plastered throughout the newspapers and media. Everyone with weapons. Children with weapons. Machine guns, grenades. Death. Destruction. Hate. Everyone running around killing each other. Everyone believing they are right. Maybe we should stop breeding like bunnies if we're so afraid of one another.
open carry April 06, 2013 at 08:56 PM
self defense is not only a right, it should be a morale obligation. you have to realize police cant be everywhere all the time, and usually show up in time to tag and bag. Hope for the best plan for the worst, you anti gun folks are just potential victims. just like in the scary movies, practice that scream so you will be the best victim you can be. A right is not a right if you don't exercise it.

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