Blade: Toledo's handgun ban to die without new OK

Last month, we reported that Toledo's ban on so-called "Saturday Night Specials" was about to sunset, to the rabid dismay of the Ohio Coalition of Gun Violence. We made you aware that the OCAGV was calling upon their supporters to urge enforcement of the ban, stating that "we will be expected to prove that the Toledo SNS ordinance is worthwhile and effective."

The Toledo Blade is now reporting that the ban has been anything BUT "worthwhile and effective." In the three years since Toledo City Council banned the sale and possession of cheap and easily concealed handguns, only eight people have been charged - and only two convicted in the course of three years. All but one of those charges were filed in 2000.

The law’s low use was cited yesterday by council members wondering whether to allow the law to expire. A sunset provision in the original ordinance would cause the ordinance to expire Jan. 27. An ordinance drafted by the city law department would make the gun ban permanent.

Police Chief Mike Navarre urged council not to repeal the sunset provision and allow police to have a tool for removing guns in some situations. He said officers simply may have forgotten about the law after using it seven times in 2000. "I would hate to take that tool away [from police officers]," Chief Navarre was quoted as saying.

Councilman Gene Zmuda recalled that former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner aggressively promoted the gun ban with arguments suggesting it was needed to stem a rising tide of violence.

"We were told that without this law our streets would not be safe. Now you’re saying, ‘No big deal,’" Mr. Zmuda told representatives of the Ford administration.

If council votes on the ordinance Tuesday, as expected, it could require a tie-breaker from Mayor Jack Ford, who opposes lifting the ban.

The Blade recently reported that burglaries in Lucas Co. are up 24 percent, robberies are up 27 percent, and car theft is up 34 percent. Yet as Councilman Zmuda pointed out, rising crime the reason Carty and the Toledo city council made lawful firearms ownership nearly impossible in Toledo in the first place.

Meanwhile in Kennesaw, Georgia, where every household has been required by city ordinance to own a handgun since 1982, crimes like these have remained at record lows ever since they plunged following passage of the law. In fact, the number of some crimes in Kennesaw declined amid soaring population growth. Kennesaw had 54 burglaries in 1981 – the year before the gun ordinance – with a population of 5,242. In 1999, with a population of 19,000, only 36 burglaries were reported. The rate of violent crime is approximately four times lower than the state and national rates.

Interested persons wishing to inform these elected leaders on the facts may contact Toledo City Council by email, or by calling 419-245-1050.
Mayor Jack Ford can be reached by email, or by calling 419-936-2020.

If you are in the Toledo area, please consider carefully whether you can contribute at this final December 17 hearing, and contact us if you'd like more information.

Click here to read the entire Toledo Blade story.

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