December 19, 2014

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Loaded magazine left behind during gun legalization gathering in Oberlin park

OBERLIN – A loaded gun magazine was almost left behind at Park Street Park during a gathering Saturday organized by gun activists to highlight the safety of legal gun ownership.

City Councilman Bryan Burgess said the incident is just one reason why he doesn’t support legalizing guns in the city’s parks.

From left, David Sonner, of Oberlin; Michael Holubar, of Wakeman; Fred Tegtmeyer, of Ashland; Jeff Phillips and Chase, 8, of Oberlin; Nick Mascari, of Wellington; and Brian Kuzawa, of Ashland, debate whether guns should be allowed in public at Park Street Park in Oberlin, which does not allow firearms. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

From left, David Sonner, of Oberlin; Michael Holubar, of Wakeman; Fred Tegtmeyer, of Ashland; Jeff Phillips and Chase, 8, of Oberlin; Nick Mascari, of Wellington; and Brian Kuzawa, of Ashland, debate whether guns should be allowed in public at Park Street Park in Oberlin, which does not allow firearms. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Currently, Oberlin’s ordinance bans firearms from the city’s parks, although state law allows it and it therefore isn’t enforced.

The city was asked to change its law to match state law at the urging of Brian Kuzawa, an Ashland resident who organized Saturday’s gathering. Kuzawa said the gathering was not meant to ruffle City Council’s feathers, although he has actively spoken out against City Council during meetings about the legislation.

It was Kuzawa’s wife who left the loaded gun magazine on a picnic table, according to Burgess, who said he and the Rev. David Hill were one of the last people in the park that day.

“I called (Kuzawa) and pointed it out to him, and said that’s why we didn’t want guns in the park, because accidents can happen,” he said.

Burgess said Kuzawa apologized for leaving the item behind, and took it with him before leaving.

Kuzawa said the incident was a “mistake,” but one that he and his wife have rectified with equipment to hold the magazine in the future. Still, he said Burgess’s argument is an overreaction.

“A magazine really doesn’t do anything without a gun to put it in,” he said.

Burgess, however, said leaving behind a gun magazine is serious enough to warrant a misdemeanor charge.

But Oberlin Police Sgt. Patrick Durica said the charge Burgess was referring to – failure to secure dangerous ordnance – would not apply to a loaded magazine. He said he is not aware of any charges that could be filed for leaving a magazine unattended.

A proposal for a new ordinance on firearms is slated for a third reading during City Council’s meeting Monday. City Council has passed the revisions to the ordinance to match state law during two separate readings, but Council members have continued to discus ways to ban guns despite the state law.

Burgess said among ideas that are being discussed are to lease the city’s parks. For example, the city already leases a portion of Legion Field Park to Zion Community Development Corp., which manages a community garden there.

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