FOX19 Investigates: Group seen openly carrying guns in East Price Hill

Web Xtra: AR-15 demonstration
The YouTube video showed four people walking down the street with weapons.
The YouTube video showed four people walking down the street with weapons.
Open carry laws vary from state to state.
Open carry laws vary from state to state.

EAST PRICE HILL, OH (FOX19) - What would you do if you saw a group of teenagers walking in front of your home carrying AR-15s?

The powerful semi-automatic assault rifles have often been the "weapon of choice" in work-place and school shootings, such as in Newtown, Conn. and last month at a school in Oregon.

Recently, two men and two women were spotted in East Price Hill walking down the streets toting the high-powered assault weapons on their backs.

On the video, originally posted on YouTube, one of the men talks about their legal right to "open carry" the weapons. The video was later taken down.

"I think one shot could take someone's life away. There's too much gun violence anyway, especially with that big of a gun," said Krystal Meyer who lives in East Price Hill with her five children.

While the group may not represent most gun owners, their stroll through a Cincinnati neighborhood with rifles displayed highlights the growing "open carry movement" in the country. Gun rights activists display assault rifles in public places to demonstrate their Second Amendment rights.

"If you have a specific purpose and you do it in a professional and polite way, I think there are benefits to come from it," said Joe Eaton of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Gun rights demonstrations were held at the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University earlier this year.

Other gun owners have "open carried' in retailers including Starbucks, Chipotle and Target, later posting the photos to social media sites.

Some retailers have now banned guns from their stores. Just last week, Target requested customers leave their guns at home, saying firearms are at odds with the store's family-friendly environment.

For many, the "in your face approach" is to prove the point that this is legal. On YouTube, there are a number of videos of gun owners out in public being approached by police, which is what happened in the East Price Hill incident.

After the group is seen walking the streets for about 10 minutes, several Cincinnati police officers stop them for a chat. On the video, officers can be heard asking why they're walking around with the weapons.

"There should be a time and a place, not in an area where there's a number of little kids," said Meyer.

While some question the group's motives, Eaton supports their right to open carry.

"Simply because something is concerning does not mean it should be restricted," said Eaton. "Firearms are simply one of the most effective tools for our wives and our families to protect ourselves and that's the way we look at it on the gun rights side."

Open carry laws vary by state. Ohio law allows gun owners to openly carry a firearm in public except in specific places like school safety zones, police stations and courthouses.

In the case of the gun-toting group in East Price hill, once officers take down information, the group is allowed to go on their way. The city attorney told FOX19 officers are trained on how to handle "open carry situations."

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