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It was a beautiful mid-September Sunday. I’d been meaning to visit Fort Laurens, the site of Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort, for some time, and last weekend provided the perfect amount of free time for my wife and I to take the day off. Bolivar, where it’s located, is less than 50 miles from where we live, so it made for an easily doable day trip.
The fort itself is not there, having been torn down long ago. What remains are markings on the ground showing the outlines of where the walls and bastions once stood, and a museum with exhibits and artifacts, that houses a theater giving a video history of the fort, along with the customary gift shop. There’s a field on the grounds where reenactments are conducted. There are plaques set at various places throughout the site, and there are marked graves, with mortal remains since reinterred within the museum.
One of the sets of remains found in a mass grave that was not brought within the structure is instead now interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Patriot.
“In this place of honor rests an unknown soldier who gave his life in the struggle for American independence,” the inscription engraved on the side of the tomb reads.
It’s sobering standing there, wondering who the fallen patriot and his comrades were, how they died, who they left behind, what they were, what they might have become...
And there’s another sobering “monument” a hundred yards or so away, this one a sign next to one of the roofed picnic areas. It prohibits guns, citing as “authority” Ohio Revised Code 155.05, identified on the sign as “Ohio Historical Society Regulations.”
The actual title for the cited section is “Violating rules at prehistoric parks,” and this one reads:
No person shall willfully violate a reasonable rule governing the access to prehistoric parks or historic grounds made by a person, association, or company owning or having custody of such parks or grounds nor shall any person injure or mark structures, trees, or plants therein. Whoever violates this section is liable to such owners or custodians for damages.
Aside from the site hardly being “prehistoric,” you’ll note the code says nothing about peaceable Americans maintaining the means of personal defense. Also open for dispute is the reasonability of an offensive rule that violates every principle the brave heroes who endured unimaginable hardships in order to secure liberty suffered and died for.
It almost seems like some historical society hoplophobe decided to put the notice up on his own authorityand see if it would work. Whether the sign and its applicability to the code section it cites would withstand a legal challenge is unknown, but it certainly is inviting of one.
It recalls another prohibition on what should be considered hallowed ground for freedom, albeit one that is not in question as to “legality” – and one that definitely should be challenged.
“Gun owners making plans to visit the resting places of veteran loved ones ... will be doing so under federal prohibition against exercising their rights recognized by Article II of the Bill of Rights,” I wrote in a Memorial Day column earlier this year, warning those who might not (yet) have loved ones interred in military cemeteries. “VA regulations 38 CFR 1.218 prohibit the carrying of firearms (either openly or concealed), explosives or other dangerous or deadly weapons while on VA property, except for official purposes, such as military funeral honors ... Possession of firearms on any property under the charge and control of VA is prohibited. Offenders may be subject to a fine, removal from the premises, or arrest.”
That’s wholly unacceptable and should cause unrelenting outrage, for government to impose such an offensive and purposeless infringement on the living, particularly on ground established to memorialize those who risked, and sometimes gave all in defense of freedom and the Constitution. This is the type of intolerable prohibition a politician with principles that go beyond telling the gun rubes what they want to hear ought to be at the forefront of overturning.
Anyone seeing any of our illustrious “A”-raters leading that charge?
But back to Fort Laurens: There are plenty of resources where you can learn more, and I encourage you to do so. It’s unbelievable to modern sensibilities what our forebears had to endure, and the history itself is fascinating.
There are also resources to find out if the offensive “No Guns” sign carries with it actual force of law, and that’s something I intend to explore further.
Still, after seeing that, it did make our next destination somewhat ironic – we stopped for lunch in nearby Historic Zoar Village, founded by German religious dissenters and separatists as a democratic communal society.
“All property and wealth were pooled and held by an organization known as the Society of Separatists of Zoar,” Ohio History Connection records. “Each member was to follow the decisions of the society’s trustees; in return they received food, clothing, and shelter.”
How unsurprising, that “One cardinal principle in the Zoarite’s faith and practice was the refusal to bear arms.” How telling that the “experiment” failed decades after it began, incompatible with human nature, reality and progress.
So how typical, that latter day “progressives,” national socialists by any other name, live to impose disarmed communal living on us all. After all, what have we seen time and again about such fanatic collectivist cultists and Opposite Day?
You’d think whomever it was from the Ohio Historical Society who put that stupid “No Guns” sign up at Fort Laurens would have learned something from the region’s past.
David Codrea is a field editor at GUNS Magazine, penning their monthly "Rights Watch" column. He provides regular reporting and commentary at Gun Rights Examiner and blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance. David Codrea's Archive page.