OBERLIN — City Council resumed discussion of its opposition to House Bill 203 — legislation that relaxes several handgun restrictions in the state.
Council has drafted a resolution in response to the bill, which was introduced June 11.
Councilman Bryan Burgess also has petitioned legislators to pass House Bill 31, which would prohibit any person from storing or leaving a firearm in the person’s residence unless the firearm is secured in safe storage or rendered inoperable by a tamper-resistant lock or other safety device. The person also would face criminal penalties if a minor gained unauthorized access to the firearm that was not stored or rendered inoperable.
Linda Slocum, president of the League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area, praised City Council for its vigilance in speaking out against guns in the community. Slocum has testified as a proponent for House Bill 31.
“We need to be vigilant about all the legislation that is coming down the pipe regarding guns,” she said. “I commend you for keeping up on these issues as they are coming up in this state.”
City Council’s opposition to House Bill 203 is in the midst of a lawsuit filed against the city by Ohioans for Concealed Carry. The group is suing the city for its gun laws, which the group contends are too vague and don’t align with state law.
City Council did not specifically comment on the pending lawsuit, but discussed its opposition to House Bill 203.
The proposed resolution opposes provisions which make it easier for individuals who are the subject of restraining orders to carry a concealed weapon by the creation of “Stand Your Ground” laws in Ohio.
The resolution, which has not yet been passed by City Council, argues that “research from the FBI’s Crime Division (2010) found that states with expanded Castle Doctrine laws, including Stand Your Ground, had an additional 600 homicides and that the notion of lethal force used in self-defense outside the home did not deter property crimes or other crime categories.”
A 2007 report by the National District Attorneys Association warned that “the laws could have significant implications for public safety and the justice system’s ability to hold people accountable for violent acts,” according to the resolution.
City Council decided to further discuss the resolution during its next meeting.
Also discussed Monday was the Gateway Hotel Project, a project to demolish the existing Oberlin Inn to build a new hotel and conference center.
Vice-President of Council Sharon Fairchild-Soucy said the Planning Commission approved a plan to alleviate traffic and parking problems, which were noted as problematic during the initial proposal. She said there are still issues with the design, however, and those issues are being reworked.
New ODNR deal
City Council also approved an agreement between the city of Oberlin and the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife for the joint maintenance and management of a public fishing program at the Oberlin Municipal Reservoir on Parsons Road.
In the fall of 1987, the city entered into a 25-year Fishing Agreement with ODNR, and a second agreement with the agency expired Nov. 3, 2012.
The agreement allowed the city to retain full control over the reservoir, restricted watercrafts and permitted “controlled free public fishing,” although ODNR may provide fish management services and maintain the staircase on the reservoir embankment, the parking lot and related signage.
Council President Ron Rimbert said the importance of passing the legislation is so the staircase gets fixed, as it is in need of repairs.
The new agreement would allow ODNR to provide a fisheries management program, giving it the authority to enforce fishing, wildlife and nuisance laws; offer specific protections and controls over the water supply; regulate “controlled free public fishing” and commit ODNR to replace the stairway on the reservoir embankment by Sept. 30, 2014, and to repair or replace the parking lot by Nov. 1, 2018.