November 26, 2014


UPDATED: Guns allowed in park after Oberlin Council agrees to follow state law


Council voted 4-3 in favor of complying with state law Sept. 16, 2013. THE CHRONICLE TELEGRAM/CHELSEA MILLER

OBERLIN – With much reluctance, City Council passed legislation to allow guns in city parks, but that doesn’t mean Council is free from potential litigation, according to Jeff Garvas, president and founder of Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

Garvas argued that a change to the ordinance to prohibit the “unlawful possession, use or discharge of any type of a firearm” is too vague. Ohioans for Concealed Carry and some Ohio gun owners petitioned City Council to change its ordinance, which formerly banned any type of firearm from the municipal park, despite state law that allows it.

“Now they’ve said you can’t have an unlawful firearm, and they haven’t declared what an unlawful firearm in the park is,” he said.

Garvus warned City Council that passing the ordinance as it is written would not be in compliance with state law. He said Ohioans for Concealed Carry asked City Council to remove the word “firearm” from its ordinance, but he said City Council is still bent on controlling firearms in the city.

City Law Director Jon Clark told City Council that he believed the ordinance was legally sound, however, although he suggested that Council review the city’s other ordinances regarding firearms for compliance to state law.

On Monday, City Council also discussed petitioning the Ohio General Assembly and Gov. John Kasich to pass legislation to enable home rule cities to regulate the possession of firearms in public parks. The resolution passed unanimously during a first reading after a 4-3 vote to enact the new firearm legislation.

Garvas, who spoke to The Chronicle-Telegram after City Council’s meeting, said he was not pleased with the outcome of the meeting, but he would not say whether Ohioans for Concealed Carry would sue the city of Oberlin. Ohioans for Concealed Carry has successfully sued the city of Clyde for failing to keep its gun-control ordinance in line with state law.

“We have attorneys, and we’ve learned from previous incidences. We don’t come to an event without having some knowledge,” he said. “I honestly am kind of surprised about how things went tonight.”

The citywide debate on gun laws began Aug. 2 when Ashland resident Brian Kuzawa sent an email to police Chief Tom Miller, reading that he would be visiting the city with a gun, despite the city’s legislation. City leaders also received an email that day from Dave Noice, ORC 9.68 compliance coordinator with Ohioans for Concealed Carry, who informed them that they could face legal action if the ordinance isn’t changed.

City Council discussed tabling the issue on Monday, but City Councilman H. Scott Broadwell said he just wanted the debate to end and the gun owners to leave the city. Last week, outspoken gun advocates gathered at Park Street Park with their firearms holstered to debate gun ownership with some residents and council members.

“I truly believe that once we do this, the gun people will have no reason to come into town,” Broadwell said.
Councilman Aaron Mucciolo echoed Broadwell’s sentiments.

“Gun people, if we change this, are you getting the hell out of my town?” he said to some cheers from the crowded City Hall.

Residents in attendance had mixed opinions on the city’s gun laws, although those against firearms appeared to be in the majority. Many residents said they feel unsafe knowing that guns can legally be carried into city parks, where children are playing.

Residents were emotional at times, discussing Monday’s shooting at a Navy Yard in Washington and a 3-year-old who allegedly shot herself with a handgun at a campground in Yellowstone National Park. Guns kill people, said resident Anne Conway, who said she does not believe in violence to solve problems.

“This is not the Oberlin that I want for our children. Far from making us safer, more guns mean more people harmed by gunfire,” she said.

Resident Anna Pilisy told City Council that she lost loved ones who were killed by “safe, long-term gun owners.”

“A simple safety would turn a gun off or a cellphone off, but the man who just spoke and the other man who was sitting behind me had their cellphones go off during Council meeting. They disregarded your request for complete silence of phones,” she said. “So do they put their safety on their guns when they should? How safe are we with these people in this town?”

Timothy Hall said gun ownership is a civil right protected by the Second Amendment, and he said it’s inappropriate for City Council infringe on those rights.

“It’s true that protesters have come to Oberlin, but I’d suggest that they’re here because the town is wrong. The town’s prohibition on guns is what has given rise to the protests. Rather than yourselves being victimized by outside forces, you’re being protested by people who are rightfully complaining about the town’s excessive exercise of political power,” he said.

Gary Witt, of Columbus, argued that guns can actually save people who are at the hands of an armed criminal.

He talked about Shawn Stevens, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a brutal attack in Elyria in which she was shot in the back, sexually assaulted and beat by a homeless man, who then dumped her into the trunk of a car.

Witt said if Stevens, and several other women who were brutally attacked in Ohio, had a gun to defend themselves, the circumstances may have been different.

“Is the criminal going to target the store with a sign that has a sign that reads ‘No guns allowed,’ or is he going to target the store that he doesn’t know?” he said. “Every one of us in this room is responsible for our own safety. No one else is responsible for that.”

After the lengthy public statement session, City Council agreed that more discussion needed to be had on the issue, despite the passage of the new ordinance.

The Rev. David Hill, pastor of First Church in Oberlin, suggested a public forum for further discussion. Hill, who said he is against firearms but open to a difference in opinions, said he has been working with other local faith leaders to organize the forums.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or

  • oldruss

    This was settled law when the Ohio Supreme Court decided that O.R.C. 9.68 meant just what it says, that is, that the state gun laws supercede any municipal ordinances. This whole “soap opera” was totally unnecessary. Now, if Oberlin choses to privatize their public parks, is Oberlin willing to give up the “recreational immunity” Oberlin now enjoys within its public parks? O.R.C. 1533.181. And see, Boyd, Stephen P., “Recreational Immunity: A continuing refuge for goverenmental entities”, The Ohio State Bar Association,

  • CharlesMartel732

    Oberlin? Isn’t that the city that touts equal rights? The one on the cutting edge of progressive societal moral rot? The Lorain County bastion where the ‘peace, love, dope’ hippies live? The city where the light of the universe shines down it’s rays of cosmic harmonic convergence?

    And they voted 4-3 to allow people to exercise their Constitutional rights?

    I guess the enlightened ones turned out to be nothing but fascists after all. Let’s jog their memory with the last words of The Who’s won’t get fooled again song:

    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

  • Joe Smith


  • Paul Facinelli

    Since Dec. 14, the day of the Sandy Hook massacre, 23,000 more Americans have been killed by guns, homicides, suicides, accidents. We average about 85 gun deaths a day in the United States, which works out to about 30,000 a year, or the equivalent of 10 9-11′s. Each year, year after year. Still we do nothing to stem the incessant carnage. At the center of this appalling legislative inertia is the gun extremist. He — and a few shes — is, to state the obvious, paranoid. He imagines marauders lurking in shopping malls, casinos, poetry readings, schoolyards, bucolic parks, anyplace there are people, which, of course, translates to everywhere. This, in and of itself, is mostly OK. Let them imagine. The trouble is, paranoid gun extremists are absolutists when it comes to public policy. They resist any sensible, reasonable and necessary laws designed to make it so fewer people die. Their position is “no,” “never” and “none”. Their paranoia fosters a belief that if we make it more difficult for Jared Loughner wannabes to get a Glock-9 with a 30-round clip, then the next day the government’s jack-booted thugs will be knocking on the doors of law-abiding gun owners to confiscate their weapons. This is, of course, undiluted nonsense. Pure excrement. But gun extremists believe this thanks mostly to Wayne LaPierre and his stooges at the NRA, who promote this fantasy so that the dollars will keep rolling into Washington from the hinterlands and LaPierre can continue to live in opulence. He must chuckle about this a lot. But back to the “no-never-none” crowd. Because they are absolutists, they are, by definition, close-minded. They hear nothing. Those who advocate for more stringent gun laws, on the other hand, don’t care if law-abiding citizens have their guns. We don’t want you to give them up. Buy and keep as many as you like. We’re open-minded. But you’re not. You’re absolutists and it is you, collectively, that keeps our nation, through our legislators, from passing sensible laws that will allow fewer people to die in gun violence. As such, you have blood on your hands. Lots of blood. On your hands.

    • Spec440

      Luckily the Constitution disagrees with you.

      • Paul Facinelli

        Luckily? Yeah, we have 30,000 gun deaths a year. Lucky us. By the way, the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Clearly, the Founders believed that a citizens’ militia might be needed to repel any further attack by the British. As such, the citizens would need to have guns in order to guarantee “the security of a free State.” This was a national security amendment. But you take this to mean that individual weapon ownership in the 21st Century is absolute, that any person should own any firearm, no questions asked?? Pardon me, but that’s just nuts and as I said, this attitude of absolutism is greatly responsible for the gun violence that is our national shame and embarrassment.

        • Smira29595

          So who is the militia???

    • Phil Blank

      Ah, you forgot to mention that also includes accidents, shootings by law enforcement officers and people still fighting overseas.

    • Mike wowk

      Ya good thing bad guys arent real and especially not in places where guns are banned…. Like Washington D C, and in Federal Buildings.. Like the Naval Yard. Oh wait never mind.

    • Smira29595

      How many were with Legal guns, by law abiding citizens??? What or who is the militia? George Mason said it was the whole of the people. Computers weren’t around in 1776 so fools could skew Numbers to fit THEIR agenda, And you don’t see the Freedom of speech being taken away. Lies, damn lies & statistics.

    • Smira29595
      • Paul Facinelli

        OK, Smira, since you posted a number of times, I choose you to pose my question to: What do you think the Founders meant by “…well regulated…”? As a proviso, be advised that I’m not accepting “well-equipped” as either an answer or a synonym. A couple of other gun owners tried to get that one by me. No sale. Our language has not evolved to the point where stricture means ammunition. I await your reply.

        • Tom Skoch

          The founders disagree with you. Here’s what they said: Search “well-regulated” on this linked page:

        • BriKuz

          Paul, don’t worry about the National Constitution… The OHIO Constitution says in Article 1, Section 4: The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

          It could be validly argued that the wording of the NATIONAL Constitution, in light of how it was interpreted with similar Section in the State Constitutions of the time, meant that the people would bear arms specifically to KEEP the militia in check…

        • bpbatista

          In the 18th century “well regulated” meant well trained and well organized.

          Now, what do you think the Founders meant by “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”?

        • Smira29595

          Look like you got your answer I can not improve on their answers.
          Now again what is the Militia????

    • Tom Skoch

      ” Guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year—or about 6,850 times a day.(1) This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.(2)

      * Even anti-gun Clinton researchers concede that guns are used 1.5 million times annually for self-defense. According to the Clinton Justice Department, there are as many as 1.5 million cases of self-defense with a firearm every year. The National Institute of Justice published this figure in 1997 as part of “Guns in America”—a study which was authored by noted anti-gun criminologists Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig.(3)


      • Tom Skoch

        As one prominent pro-gun figure asks today after the Navy Yard shootings on Twitter: ‏@MrColionNoir
        When there’s a shooting we have blood on our hands? What do we get when the countless ppl protect themselves with guns? It’s only fair.

        • Zen Grouch

          Yeah, I blame the media!

          Why do we never hear about all of the good citizens who defend themselves with firearms, while only reading about the negative?

      • Zen Grouch

        Your source on the first claim (1) wasn’t too clear, it mostly credited the author of the report, but didn’t actually say how those numbers were acquired?

        Did this number of “citizens” include police or other law enforcement officials, because they are after all citizens too?

        To assume that it doesn’t is taking a huge leap of faith, unless there are other statistics that clear this issue up.

        And the second reference (2) you used to back up your argument, uses the number of citizens killed by guns, in suicides, homicides and accidents.

        So when comparing the murders and other unjustified deaths of citizens, what is it you’re comparing those numbers to? And why were injuries, both minor and serious caused by guns left out of the equation?

        You state that guns are used in self defense?

        What exactly does that mean?

        Are you talking about using a gun to back down someone who is also armed, are you talking about pulling a gun on a kid stealing a lawnmower, someone who dinged your car…

        These situations could fit the description given in the article you linked, in the “self defense” section, since it “self defense” could include protecting property.

        So, I feel it’s unfair to statistically compare an overzealous store owner shoving his .357 into the face of a kid trying to steal some beer, with people who are murdered, commit suicide or are accidentally shot to death.

        Numbers are cool, we can pretty much do what ever we want with them, especially when we compare apples and oranges to bolster an argument.

    • Larry Crnobrnja

      The vast majority of those deaths are suicides. Neither of us knows if those people would find another means of ending their lives if they didn’t have a gun available to them.

    • Guest

      “* Guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year—or about 6,850 times a day.(1) This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.(2)

      * Even anti-gun Clinton researchers concede that guns are used 1.5 million times annually for self-defense. According to the Clinton Justice Department, there are as many as 1.5 million cases of self-defense with a firearm every year. The National Institute of Justice published this figure in 1997 as part of “Guns in America”—a study which was authored by noted anti-gun criminologists Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig.(3)”

      Source, with citations:

    • bpbatista

      The only reason money keeps pouring into the NRA is because people like you want to violate our constitutional rights, deny our basic rights to self defense and confiscate our guns.

      Gun grabbers like you and Obama are the best fund raisers the NRA ever had and the best salesmen that gun manufacturers could ever hope for.

  • Heath J

    Stay classy, Oberlin.

    Oh, and your side loses.


  • Arietta Sullivan

    why not let the people that are legal&go by all the gun laws,carry their gun,everywhere? at times,police don’t or can’t respond quick enough&if we all have a chance to protect or to be protected then we have that security.i was in a local park,back in the winter time&this stupid woman,didn’t have her dog on the leash(THAT SHE WAS CARRYING IN HER HANDS)&this dog came charging at me&all i had was the faith of God to protect me.the dog got up on me&was even jumping on me&growling,yes,i stood there&was trying to not show fear&was talking to the mutt.,i dare not to run cause then the dog would have probably attacked me but if myself or someone else would have had a gun..the dog would have been dead. in the mean time,i learned to carry my mace&taser&really not care what others opinions are on my whole experienced,if the state is going to allow law bidding citizens go through tests&all to be a gun owner then their gun should be allowed to go everywhere with them.i thought that was the whole protect..

  • Bruce Tennant

    A large number of people (almost as large as gun deaths) are killed by blunt objects, knives and other weapons….so why aren’t we banning hammers, knives etc ? I’m sure if we ban allt he guns and even the other weapons all the criminals will readily comply…

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