Upper Arlington News

UA City Council approves gun law members hope to repeal

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It's not often that public officials take action to both approve and restrict something in the same meeting, but that happened at Upper Arlington City Council's April 28 session.

Members approved a local law allowing firearms to be openly carried in city parks and followed with a resolution seeking the right to ban such activity.

Excluding Councilman David DeCapua, who was out of town, council unanimously passed an ordinance to permit visitors to the city's parks and other open spaces to openly carry firearms.

Council members followed that action -- which becomes effective May 28 -- by passing a resolution "urging Ohio voters to contact Ohio General Assembly members to urge them to amend the law to allow municipalities to prohibit carrying firearms in municipal parks."

The divergent stances were prudent, according to UA Mayor and Council President Don Leach, because the Ohio Supreme Court twice has ruled that municipalities cannot restrict the carrying of legal guns in public parks and open spaces, but UA officials oppose firearms in local parks.

City officials have determined that municipalities found in violation of state and federal laws upholding the right to openly carry firearms in parks and open spaces could be forced to pay court costs and attorney fees to any person, group or entity that successfully challenges the restriction.

"This brings us in compliance with state law," Leach said.

But the resolution calling on voters to lobby for municipalities' rights to prohibit firearms in public spaces is in line with views held by council members. City Attorney Jeanine Hummer and Police Chief Brian Quinn said openly carrying firearms in parks and other open spaces is unwanted in Upper Arlington.

Leach said council approved the resolution following a recommendation from 42-year-old UA resident Paul Josenhans, who at an April 14 council meeting called on city leaders "to prepare and vote on an appropriate resolution instructing delegates to urge the state legislators and the governor to take action to repeal the offensive provisions of the applicable state laws."

"The resolution was the result of comments by Mr. Josenhans at the prior meeting that struck a chord with council, and we thought it was a good idea," Leach said.

The resolution calling for the right for a prohibition states, "City parks are used by residents of all ages for recreation, family events, sporting events, holiday celebrations and more, and ... many city parks are near city schools.

"(T)he city of Upper Arlington, and all Ohio municipal governments, should be able to choose whether to prohibit firearms within their parks."

The resolution also called on neighboring jurisdictions to pass similar legislation seeking the right to prohibit guns in parks.

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