Concealed carry ordinance brought into question

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Concerns over concealed carry regulations were addressed to city council Monday night.

The state of Ohio has permitted concealed carry weapons to be allowed in areas such as parks and pools and the city must change its ordinance to conform with this law.

While at-large council member Bruce Jeffers showed concern for this issue, he doesn’t see where the city has any “straws to grasp at” concerning challenging the state.

“I don’t see where we have much to do locally,” he said.

At-large council member Sandy Rowland said the council wants to take some sort of action, but hasn’t had time yet to do so. Rowland said the council should take a stand against this issue.

“We have a huge responsibility in front of us,” she said.

City resident Laura Sanchez proposed addressing legal scholars and trying to create a permit fee associated with bringing concealed carry weapons into areas such as those listed.

Resident Sam Melendez mentioned he has two children and is scared of taking them places where there will be guns. Even if it means legal action by the state, he said the city should “stand up for our values.”

Resident Dick Rogers defended concealed carry weapons in such areas.

“Some of you might not understand [that] to have a concealed carry permit, this is a very, very difficult thing to get,” Rogers said.

He said there is an “unbelievable” background check. He added that most people aren’t going to bring concealed carry weapons into parks, but “if they do, they’re good guys.”

“I’m disturbed taking my kids to the pool now,” Melendez said. “To think that this could get voted on in a couple weeks … that’s disturbing to me.”

At-large council member Robert McOmber said that while the council doesn’t like the law either, the city could be sued if it doesn’t change the ordinance.

McOmber said it’s not the city’s fault that it must pass this ordinance.

“It’s completely unfair to blame the council,” he said.

City Attorney Mike Marsh said it may be best for the city not the take action; the courts may change their position.

The city isn’t able to make these types of rules, the state does, Marsh said.

“The remedy is at the ballot box,” he said.

Jeffers suggested making park and pool entrances no gun zones, making it more difficult to bring concealed carry weapons into such areas.

Marsh said while such an action wouldn’t protect the entire area, it is something the city could consider.

Resident Mary Abel moved the attention of the council from guns to sidewalks.

She said many areas of sidewalks are damaged and have caused her injuries that have sent her to the hospital.

She asked the council why sidewalk ordinance hasn’t been enforced.

McOmber said in the past the city hasn’t had the funds to fix sidewalks, but this year the city has money to do so.

“Now we’re in kind of a catch-up mode,” he said.

Abel also added that the city will pay for half the cost of fixing a sidewalk, and said people would be more receptive to it if they knew.

Municipal Administrator John Fawcett said the city is trying to work with residents rather than give citations and say “fix it, I don’t care what it’s going to cost you.”

Also at council:

•Mayor Edwards announced the new city fire chief, Captain Tom Sanderson.

•Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Grigore discussed the Lunch in the Park series, which will begin on June 6 and will host food from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.