Delaware City Council is considering the repeal of a section of an ordinance that bans firearms in city parks in order to comply with state law.
At its meeting Monday, Aug. 25, council conducted the first of an expected three readings of legislation that would repeal the ordinance.
City Attorney Darren Shulman said the city currently has a prohibition on carrying firearms in public parks. The ordinance is not compatible with a change to the Ohio Revised Code approved by the state legislature more than five years ago.
"(The state law), long story short, prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting restrictions on the carrying, possession, transport, transfer (or) sale of firearms other than what the state has in place or what's allowed in the constitution specifically," he said.
Shulman said a number of cities have challenged the law, but the state Supreme Court has denied those challenges.
The city has not been enforcing the ban on firearms in city parks, Shulman said, which is why the ordinance's repeal had not come before council until now.
"Basically, we don't really have much of a say in this (because) it's a requirement from the state legislature," he said. "We could expose ourselves to some liability if we keep this on the books -- even if we don't enforce it."
Along with firearms, the ordinance up for repeal also bans air guns, BB guns, fireworks and slingshots in city parks.
Councilman Andrew Brush said council needed to decide whether it wanted to keep those prohibitions in place if it repealed the section regarding handguns.
"I could revise (the ordinance) to keep those in if that is the desire of council," Shulman said.
Fire Chief John Donahue said the state's fire code already regulates fireworks, meaning the city did not have to adopt new legislation banning them in parks.
Shulman said he wanted to make it clear that the ordinance's repeal would not eliminate any prohibitions on discharging firearms in public.
"This doesn't mean people can just go around shooting guns -- it's about carrying guns," he said.
Shulman said the legislature was trying to create a unified code to prevent inconsistent gun laws from city to city.
Council is expected to conduct a second reading of legislation repealing the ordinance at its Sept. 8 meeting.
Shulman recommended three readings of the legislation so residents with questions about the process have time to reach out to council.