November 24, 2014

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Oberlin gun ordinance to match Ohio law advances

OBERLIN — Brian Kuzawa, the Polk resident who carried his firearm into an Oberlin park, triggering a citywide debate on gun laws, met criticism from both residents and City Council Tuesday night.

Kuzawa expressed his opinion on why guns should be allowed on city property, but Sharon Fairchild-Soucy, vice-president of Council, responded that she did not feel safe in a city that allows guns.

“I want my grandson to grow up in a town where guns are not necessary, and I think I have the right to live in a protected environment where guns are not a factor,” she said to a round of applause.

Later, Kuzawa was stopped by two residents who were leaving the City Council meeting. One woman told Kuzawa that it was ironic that he said his gun could protect him when gun violence was rampant in the country.

“In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to carry a firearm,” Kuzawa responded, shrugging.

The debate on the city’s gun laws began Aug. 2 when Kuzawa emailed Police Chief Tom Miller that he would be legally carrying his firearm in the park. He notified Miller that the city’s ban of firearms in municipal parks went against state law — something that is allowed under the Ohio Revised Code.

On Tuesday, city Law Director Jon Clark urged Council members to amend Oberlin’s ordinance to match state law, lest they face legal action.

State law allows for carrying firearms in public with the exception of some locations. Those who challenge any city ordinance that violates their right to bear arms could be awarded costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Four City Council members, albeit reluctantly, voted to amend the ordinance to state law during a second reading.

“Succumbing to the state so that we don’t all lose our shirts is in no way of an indication of how we feel about this law. What we may find ourselves doing is rescinding our ordinance in order to protect ourselves from a suit and then look for other options,” Fairchild-Soucy said prior to the vote.

The ordinance will go to a third reading during City Council’s next meeting, at which time Council will either approve the revisions or pursue other actions to prohibit firearms in the park.

Council discussed several alternatives, including privatizing its municipal parks. To do so would allow the owner of the park to establish his or her own firearm laws.

Oberlin resident Megan Schief offered to purchase the city’s two parks for $20, but Clark said the parks would go to the highest bidder if they were sold.

Council also suggested fighting state law through the court system, which would cost another city $70,000, according to Councilman Bryan Burgess.

Dave Noice, ORC 9.68 compliance coordinator with Ohioans for Concealed Carry, previously spoke to The Chronicle-Telegram, warning that fighting the law would be a costly endeavor.

Ohioans for Concealed Carry sued the city of Clyde in 2008 after it prohibited licensed handgun owners
from carrying concealed handguns in city parks. The city of Clyde appealed the ruling that its ordinance was unconstitutional, but the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

Burgess said he has been in discussion with Clyde’s police chief, who said he would share notes and files on the city’s legal battle. Burgess said, at the urging of Oberlin residents who are against Ohio’s gun laws, he has also spoken with representatives in other cities who are going through similar circumstances.

“Clyde spent $70,000 roughly, in total, arguing up from the lowest court to the highest court in the state,” he said. “I had these nightmare visions of a challenge costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it cost $70,000, so that was kind of interesting.”

Police Chief Tom Miller presented data on gun arrests in Oberlin in the past three years. According to police records, there were 17 incidents involving guns ranging from felonious assault to having weapons under disability. There were two rapes and three aggravated robberies involving guns, none of which occurred in the city’s parks.

“None of the crimes that we’ve dealt with dealt with anybody with a (concealed carry) or an open carry permit. These were all unlawful concession of guns,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.


  • Phil Blank

    The gun blogs will pick this up and run with it.

  • hottamomma

    bet wouldnt no one bother him with his gun clearly showing

    • BriKuz

      They wouldn’t… Chief Miller and his department know the law ;-) Even if some commentators here DON’T

  • Chuck

    The stupidity in that article astounds me
    The last two paragraphs plainly show that laws don’t stop criminals and that they have never had a problem with lawful gun carriers.

    Yet they sound willing to spend $70K in a losing proposition to keep law abiding citizens disarmed

    I marvel at their way of thinking,,,,

    • robertsgunshop

      Liberals want all law abiding people disarmed.

  • Redmond Marksman

    Local politicians getting a little too full of themselves and think they can take away rights of law abiding citizens gets smacked down by state law… Sounds like sweet, sweet justice to me! HA!

  • dnoice

    Ohio Revised Code 9.68 is what the city needs to fight.
    THAT’S the law that allowed Ohioans for Concealed Carry to win their case.

    Now, how much did CLEVELAND spend when they sued the State of Ohio arguing that 9.68 was unconstitutional? (Cleveland v. State 2010)

    Whatever that amount is (I bet it’s a LOT!), that’s the number that Oberlin’s taxpayers need to be aware of. That will probably be the minimum amount a city should be prepared to spend.

    If the taxpayers of a city wish to have their tax money spent fighting a battle that has already been fought, I support them completely.

    I’d rather have my tax money spent on social programs that have measurable outcomes…but I do not live in Oberlin.

  • Ray Venn

    Let some “tool” purchase the parks. I hope they have the money and insurance to maintain them. If it’s done in an “end around” to circumvent Ohio Law then I also hope they have the money to defend that lawsuit also…

  • Heath J

    Thank God for state preemption, or the morons on Oberlin City council would get away with stuff like this.

  • Janae Kuzawa

    I find it disheartening that the City of Oberlin is acting like a Crooked Wall Street Corporation, trying to find loopholes and work arounds of State Law, all while expecting the citizens of the city to do as they say, not as they do. Does the Council not understand that, though they may pass Ordinances to assist in the Public Safety, the ultimate responsibility for the safety of any person, by Natural Right AND the Ohio Constitution, ULTIMATELY lies with the person, NOT the State, neighbors, or anyone else. My husband and I will CONTINUE to see to the safety of our children, and we will do so in ANY public place and any private place that allows us to do so (any private place that would not give us the opportunity to defend ourselves, such as by banning firearms or other weapons, is perfectly within their rights to do so, though WE have the right to spend our money elsewhere)

  • Pete

    Sounds like Brian did all this for a “power trip”. That’s the problem with all these gun huggers, real men don’t need guns to defend.

    • Smira29595

      Maybe a real woman does, what would you suggest I do when a 20 something 300 hundred lb. thug accosts me on my way to my car after grocery shopping??? BTW I am a disable 50 yr old female.

    • Joe Smith

      You will change you mind if you are attacked by a knife, a gun or multiple attackers Mr. Ninja

  • Janae Kuzawa

    What about ME, Pete… am I not a “real man”… oh, wait, I’m NOT… My husband, on the other hand, IS… he will do whatever he can to defend both me and our children… BRIAN runs the garden that we get 90% of our food from. BRIAN works a full time job to pay the other bills. BRIAN changes the kids diapers, plays with them, teaches them… I think my husband actually does a pretty good job of being a “man”… (he sure farts like one!) And when he’s not there, I still have my Ruger SR40 to help even the score between 5’2 me and “real men” like you…

  • moovova

    …Sharon Fairchild-Soucy…responded that she did not feel safe in a city that allows guns.

    “I want my grandson to grow up in a town where guns are not necessary, and I think I have the right to live in a protected environment where guns are not a factor…”

    Now, that’s a special kind of stupid, right there.

    Lady…I suggest you DO NOT ever CALL 911 because the cops will show up with…OMG…guns.

    • Smira29595

      Or move to Chicago……….. guns are out outlawed there.

  • Pete

    I see now, a whole family of gun huggers!

    • Joe Smith

      Yes, most of them are intelligent people that do their thinking based on fact instead of emotion

      • Pete

        NO, most egotisical idiots who need a gun to feel important. Intelligent people know how to keep themselves out of situations that involve guns or violence of any type.

        • FordPre

          Really? “Intelligent people know how to keep themselves out of situations that involve guns or violence of any type”? So, how does an individual (such as the “nice” young men in St. Louis who were playing the knockout game) determine whether an individual is intelligent or not when looking for their next victim? Is there a special handshake or membership card the intelligent person has in order to tell the criminal that they are intelligent and that they should be allowed to continue on their way? Please, do tell. I thought I was somewhat intelligent, but evidently, since I have been a victim of violence I never got my secret artifact that would have let the individual who attacked me know that I was intelligent and should not have been attacked.

        • Joe Smith

          Your comment shows you know nothing about the gun culture or self defense at all and are going off emotion and the only way to keep yourself out of situations where there is no gun or violence threat is to go live in a cave somewhere. We even have people bursting into peoples homes and robbing them at gunpoint when the robber know they are there. 800,000 “egotistical idiots” use a firearm per year in the USA to stop a crime. I would say the idiot would be the one who is aware of a potential threat and does nothing about it. Are you a “egotistical idiot” if you wear a seatbelt? I mean you and your great intelligence should be able to drive in a manner that keep you out of situations that would get you in a car wreck shouldn’t you? Please explain to me how the people at Sandy Hook are non intelligent since they did not avoid a violent situation, how about the people in Boston? …No? Of course they and most people who get attacked are not stupid, it has been impossible since the beginning of mankind to avoid those situations when they are people hellbent on creating those situations.

        • Kevin Straus

          Pete, please for the love of God stop posting and showing how stupid you are! You are so misguided and sad. I feel for your family. They are in danger if they follow your “Intelligent people know how to keep themselves out of situations that involve guns or violence of any type” message.

  • bpbatista

    With all the vicious racists and KKK members attending Oberlin College, it is only reasonable that average citizens be allowed to carry guns to protect themselves.

  • Joe Smith

    “I want my grandson to grow up in a town where guns are not necessary, and I think I have the right to live in a protected environment where guns are not a factor,” she said to a round of applause”

    Go put a sign in from of your house that state your home is gun free and see how the criminals react.

  • Joe Smith

    “Police Chief Tom Miller presented data on gun arrests in Oberlin in the past three years. According to police records, there were 17 incidents involving guns ranging from felonious assault to having weapons under disability. There were two rapes and three aggravated robberies involving guns, none of which occurred in the city’s parks. “None of the crimes that we’ve dealt with dealt with anybody with a (concealed carry) or an open carry permit. These were all unlawful concession of guns,” he said. ”

    Says it all right there, the honest person with a CCW is not the one to fear

    • Pete

      You’re right, it’s the dishonest ones that we should fear and they are out there. I wonder how many more “Zimmrmans” are out there?

      • Joe Smith

        Zimmerman, the guy who defended his life? I hope there are millions like him out there.

        • Pete

          No, Zimmerman who hunted down a person(unarmed) that was not commiting a crime, Zimmerman who was told not to pursue this person yet did and shot him after confronting him for no reason. Sure, he was found not guilty but he is the reason Trayvon is dead and he instigated the incident.

          • Joe Smith

            Zimmerman followed a person who was suspiciously walking in the shadows near the houses instead of the sidewalk in an area that had several break in’s recently who was told ” we don’t need you to do that” by a dispatcher and Zimmerman clearly says “ok” on the 911 tape and was attacked by Trayvon when Zim was walking back to his car.( BTW dispatchers have no legal authority to tell you to do anything but Zim listened anyway). Zero evidence says Zim confronted him and Trayvon attacked him and Zim acted in self defense.Trayvon BTW was on suspension for vandalism from his school and when the school officer searched his locker found many stolen rings and a screw driver ( burglar tool) in a bag and this is after Trayvon ( who was in a violent fight club) attacked his bus driver.

          • FordPre

            Ah, so Pete, I take it that you were in the court room. Heard all the testimony. Saw all the evidence. Listened to and understood the judge’s instructions? Wow… and imagine that six other citizens made the incorrect decision who were there and did what I listed above. Absolutely amazing.

  • Phil Evans

    To Sharon Fairchild-Soucy: Just how do you propose to live in a “protected environment” without the presence of guns?

    Oh I see, you mean guns only in the hands of police, but not us ordinary citizens. Tell you what, when the police are always there in time to save us, I’ll give up my guns at that time. Until then, good luck in taking away my God given right of self-defense!

    To everyone else: Please vote these ignorant clowns out of office so you won’t have to listen to their vapid drivel, or have them attempt to infringe upon your rights.

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