Council tables gun ordinance PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel City Editor   
Monday, 16 June 2014 20:33
Councilman Bruce Jeffers speaks on a gun ordiance  which allows for firearms in city parks during a council meeting  Monday, June 16, 2014. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Councilman Bruce Jeffers speaks on a gun ordiance which allows for firearms in city parks during a council meeting Monday, June 16, 2014. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green City Council Monday night voted to table until late next month a controversial ordinance that would allow guns in the city's parks.
The ordinance, which has incited vocal public comment in recent weeks, was originally scheduled for a third reading and vote at the meeting.
"It's close to home," said resident Laura Sanchez prior to the vote. "And I know that whatever we feel about guns, our children deserve a sacred place."
The ordinance would bring the city into compliance with the Ohio Revised Code and rulings by the Ohio Supreme Court on the issue of guns in parks. Currently, the standing city ordinance does not allow guns in parks, which conflicts with state law.
The proposed changes reportedly resulted after an escalating exchange of emails on the subject with a gun-rights activist.
City officials previously indicated if the ordinance is not changed, Bowling Green could become subject to a lawsuit - one, they said, the city almost certainly could not win. The city of Clyde lost a lawsuit to gun-rights group Ohioans for Open Carry in 2008 over a similar issue in the Ohio Supreme Court, and the decision was affirmed in another case two years later.
The June 2 meeting of council saw comments offered by the public on both sides of the issue. Some council members then offered the possibility that action could be delayed for a more thorough examination of the problem.
On Monday, discussion amongst council members initially showed something of a divide; some seemed to feel the ordinance is unenforceable and exposes the city to potential problems, while others sought alternate solutions rather than voting for the changed language.
Councilman Robert McComber (right) speaks on a gun ordiance that allows firearms in city parks near councilwoman Sandy Rowland (left) during a council meeting Monday, June 16, 2014.
Councilman Robert McComber (right) speaks on a gun ordiance that allows firearms in city parks near councilwoman Sandy Rowland (left) during a council meeting Monday, June 16, 2014.
Theresa Charters Gavarone noted "the issue is not whether we should or should not allow guns in our parks. That issue has already been decided by the Ohio General Assembly and the Supreme Court of Ohio, and it has essentially been taken out of our hands."
"The only issue before us is whether we should vote to keep an ordinance on our books that is unconstitutional" and "cannot be enforced and could expose us to lawsuits and liabilities."
"We can't possibly enforce this city ordinance," said Bob McOmber.
"I think if we leave the ordinance on the books as is … that we are putting our police force in a no-win situation, and that bothers me quite a bit."
Some members opined that the issue was less certain.
"I'm not sure it's as black and white as is presented," said John Zanfardino.
"We have learned there are many communities who have not changed the law," Sandy Rowland added later.
"I have been told by (City Attorney) Mike Marsh that there are other laws in Bowling Green that are in conflict with state laws."
"It's just not black and white," she said subsequently.
"I'd like to see what some other cities have done," said Bruce Jeffers. "We might be able to come up with something a little better than we have right now."
As the debate progressed, Councilman Daniel Gordon broached the possibility of tabling the ordinance.
"I don't know if it's best to settle this issue tonight," he said.
When the matter came up for its third and final reading approximately 15 minutes later, Rowland proposed that the ordinance be tabled until July 21 instead. The proposal received a unanimous vote.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 June 2014 14:57
 

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