Council members amend ordinance for fire arms

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Revisions to the city ordinance for firearms in city parks were made and adopted during Monday night’s city council meeting.

The original ordinance, Section 97.05(C), stated “No person shall use, carry, or possess firearms of description [in parks] … or other form of weapon potentially inimical to wildlife or dangerous to human safety…”

This ordinance did not conform with state statutes, which allow concealed carry weapons in parks. While city council did not think it prudent to go against state statute and keep the ordinance, they did amend it to be permissive of concealed carry weapons while still being restrictive on the use of firearms.

The amended ordinance states “No person shall use, carry, or possess within park property, with the intent to use for purposes of hunting, trapping or pursuing wildlife, any other form of weapon potentially inimical to wildlife or any kind of trapping device that may [be] used for trapping wildlife.”

At-large council member Sandy Rowland said it is important to define what a “weapon” is.

The preceding draft of the ordinance stated that things such as air rifles, paint ball guns and slings were not permitted in parks, but the amendment only uses the term “weapons.”

Police Chief Bradford Conner said such a word could cover many different things, such as a rock if it were to be used to assault someone.

Second ward council member John Zanfardino said Conner “makes a good point” about using things such as rocks as weapons and wanted to make sure the ordinance can be as clear as possible so it can protect residents.

“I don’t want to leave here tonight feeling we had to comply with the state or leaving parks less secure than we could,” Zanfardino said.

First ward council member Daniel Gordon said this ordinance will continue to be discussed by the council.

Resident Laura Sanchez spoke to the council about Oberlin, Ohio, which has been in the same situation regarding concealed carry weapons in parks.

She said Oberlin is in its second lawsuit over their wish to keep concealed carry weapons out of parks.

“The city has a strong feeling for their home rule rights,” Sanchez said.

She suggested an action to take would be to not enforce the state statute or allow the city to be sued and attempt to fight it.

Zanfardino said while he respects Oberlin’s struggle, the city is doing the “best it can” in keeping parks safe.

Rowland said the council has taken a lot of time conceiving the amendment to make parks safe.

“I feel the [amendment] represents the feelings of the council,” she said. “A lot of thinking went into this.