Weapons instructors indicted

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Following an investigation by the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office which began in early November, a Scioto County Grand Jury on Friday, returned indictments against a Lucasville man, 34, along with a Portsmouth resident, 25, described by Scioto County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Todd Miller as an accomplice in the case.

Lucasville’s Jerry Robert Hayes is accused of 25 counts of falsification to obtain concealed handgun licenses. Portsmouth’s Jake Edward Buckler is charged with eight counts of the exact same crime.

On Wednesday afternoon, Miller stated his office had yet to obtain arrest warrants for either suspect. He expected the court to supply those warrants late Wednesday afternoon or Thursday. He said the sheriff’s office would issue a full statement regarding the alleged activities of Hayes and Buckler as soon as warrants are issued and/or the two are under arrest.

Miller earlier reported to the Portsmouth Daily Times his office was investigating a Lucasville area weapons instructor for allegedly handing out paperwork which could allow his customers to obtain Ohio concealed carry permits. Essentially, according to Miller, the sheriff’s office believes Hayes was improperly and illegally handing out paperwork stating customers had completed firearms training required by the state in order for private citizens to obtain CCW permits from the county sheriff’s office.

Miller had not previously mentioned an alleged accomplice in the case and on Wednesday declined to comment on Buckler’s alleged role in any criminal misdoings. Presumably, that information will be contained in whatever statement Miller ultimately makes public after the arrest warrants are issued.

In previous discussions of the situation, Miller added roughly 35 to 40 CCW permits awarded may be in jeopardy. He continued the instructor potentially faces fines and jail time.

Rick Jones is a local firearms instructor as well as the south-central Ohio spokesperson for the Buckeye Firearms Association. He said should problems be found with the firearms instruction classes given by any instructor, persons who used that instructor to gain a concealed carry permit likely will lose those permits. As of Wednesday, it is not clear how that process would work.

In December, Jones talked about another case currently underway against an instructor in Akron. He said several years ago an Ohio instructor was convicted of selling course completion certificates without actually requiring buyers take any training. Persons who had used the instructor lost any money they paid to that person and any who had gained a permit through that instructor, lost their permit.

Again, in mid-December, when the Daily Times first learned of the investigation into Hayes, the paper contacted the Ohio Attorney General’s office for information on CCW rules in the state in general. By email, the attorney general’s office response was to point to their website.

According to that website, state law gives county sheriff’s offices exclusive control over CCW permits issued in Ohio. Persons must apply in their county of residence or in a neighboring county. A key permit requirement is completion of an eight-hour firearm safety course “conducted by an instructor who was certified by an official or entity of Ohio, another state, the United States government, or a national gun advocacy group that complies with the minimum educational requirements.”

In the case of the Lucasville instructor, Miller said he was certified by the National Rifle Association. Miller added the sheriff’s office had notified the NRA of the ongoing situation.

Sheriff’s offices statewide have the authority to determine if an organization qualifies to conduct firearms courses. Courses must meet certain minimum educational requirements consisting of both hands-on firearms experience as well as a written exam.

Rules are different for law enforcement officers as well as former or current military personnel. All persons hoping to gain a concealed carry permit must pass a criminal background check and not have been deemed mentally incompetent, among other requirements.

According to the Attorney General’s website, there are roughly 21 concealed carry instructors in Scioto County certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. There are an unknown number of other instructors certified by groups such as the NRA.

Statistics on the Attorney General site state in 2017 Ohio sheriff’s offices issued 131,345 regular CCW permits, including 77,281 new licenses and 54,064 renewals. The state denied just over 1,200 permit applications.

Locally, in Scioto County, the sheriff’s office last year issued 711 concealed carry permits, with the vast majority of those, 509, being renewals. They denied applications in only three instances.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]