Gahanna City Council is considering legislation that would allow firearms-training programs in the parks.

Gahanna City Council is considering legislation that would allow firearms-training programs in the parks.

Parks and recreation director Tony Collins said Oct. 25 that he has received requests from a pair of residents to amend the city's firearms and weapons code to allow gun safety to be taught to Boy Scouts at city parks.

He currently has the authority to allow archery-related programs that include bows, arrows and crossbows.

The proposed amendment to the existing code would give Collins permission to allow firearms-training programs and add "hunting knives or other weapons or firearms" to language that allows individuals to teach safety-related programs.

Council member Beryl Anderson questioned the "downside" to such a change.

Collins said he doesn't see one, but passersby would see a gun and that might require an explanation.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time it would be a Boy Scout troop earning a merit badge," he said. "Anything would be run by the (police) chief."

Council member David Samuel asked if other suburbs have similar policies.

"What may have led to this is that schools aren't allowing groups to do this any more," Collins said. "I think there was a rule change recently. This would make it eligible for any park. The request we got was for shelters."

Anderson expressed concern about liability for the city.

"In terms of securing a firearm, I'm sure the Boy Scouts have rules in place about safety for instructors," Collins said. "We would be authorizing the class to happen in our facility."

Council member Tom Kneeland asked if instructors would be certified.

"The request is for us to give permission," Collins said. "They want to be able to shoot."

Anderson said she would be comfortable if a liability waiver were in place. She also asked about instructors.

Collins said there's a liability-release form for shelter houses.

"What we recommend is an administrative process," he said. "We'd be happy to put in some type of practice for a liability waiver."

Kneeland said the only action required by council would be the code change.

"Approving a request for a permit is administrative," he said. "We have the authority to approve legislative requests. I just think we need to make sure the person is qualified to give a class."

Collins said he would investigate insurance and liability issues, and council could discuss the proposed code change during its next committee meeting Nov. 8. A first reading on the matter was scheduled for Nov. 1.

Collins also reported that more than 5,000 people attended the Oct. 13 Creepside Festival. He said 54 volunteers operated stations and activities for a total of 175 volunteer hours, making up 84 percent of the workforce.

In addition, Collins said, 41 businesses participated in the Trick-or-Treat Trail and four food vendors were in attendance. He said the hayrides and paddleboats were in constant operation and brought $1,417 in revenue.