Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel City Editor
Monday, 02 June 2014 09:06
City council is scheduled to give a second reading tonight to a proposed ordinance that would permit guns in Bowling Green’s parks.
The meeting is to begin at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Municipal Building.
The ordinance, which has generated a great deal of comment from residents, would bring the city’s ordinance into compliance with both the Ohio Revised Code and rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court. Such ordinances are usually given three readings before being voted on.
Officials recently told the Bowling Green Park Board the city could face a lawsuit if the ordinance is not changed — a lawsuit that they would most likely lose, potentially costing the city a significant amount of money.
In one case, the city of Clyde was sued by the organization Ohioans for Concealed Carry over a similar ordinance and lost after a protracted legal battle eventually decided in 2008 by the Ohio Supreme Court. Clyde was assessed a penalty of $70,000, in addition to legal costs.
The increasing focus on the topic of carrying guns in town raises a new question: Where can’t a firearm be carried within the city of Bowling Green?
Maj. Tony Hetrick of the Bowling Green Police Division indicated guns cannot be carried – either openly or concealed – in any business or private property which posts that no firearms, dangerous ordnance, etc., are permitted there.
Offenders could be charged with a trespassing violation, however, not a firearms offense.
Unlike with concealed carry weapons, there is no permit necessary for the open carry of a firearm.
Regulations are somewhat more involved for vehicles.
“In a motor vehicle, you can only transport a firearm on your person loaded and ready if you have a CCW permit. You cannot open carry, so to speak, in a car. To be in proper transportation of a firearm if you don’t have a permit,” the gun and its ammunition must be kept separate.
Additionally, guns cannot be carried in a government building, such as a police department, courthouse, jail or town hall, or a school safety zone. Further, licensed gun owners cannot carry weapons on college or university property (unless the gun is locked in a vehicle), in places of worship (unless the site allows it), day cares, and airplanes. Licensed gun owners may carry in establishments serving liquor for consumption on-site, but they cannot consume alcohol while carrying.
Hetrick further indicated that enclosed facilities – “closed and securable buildings,” he said – at the city’s parks are restricted.
“I wouldn’t consider a shelter house a building,” he said.
One gray area, however, seems to be the city’s pool and waterpark.
City Prosecutor Matt Reger said that “I don’t believe that the pool would be considered a building, because it is open.”
However, the fact that people must pass through the pool building to enter the complex is “an arguable point.”
“As (the city’s ordinance) relates to the pool house, it’s a city building, so you have an argument that you could restrict it there,” but “it’s not a clear area.”
“In my 18 years of being here, I don’t believe we’ve ever charged anyone for carrying a weapon in a park,” said Hetrick, “unless it was a concealed carry violation that we found on another complaint, and they were in possession of a firearm without a permit.
“As far as open carry, we’ve never, to my knowledge, stopped or arrested somebody for that, for that violation of the park ordinance. So it’s not a common thing that we’ve seen.”
Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 11:41