CLEVELAND - JULY 8, 2004 - Ohioans For Concealed Carry, the state's largest grassroots organization working to reform Ohio's self-defense laws, announced today that its Office of General Counsel has sent letters to the first municipalities that have passed ordinances attempting to restrict the lawful carrying of concealed handguns by those licensed by the State of Ohio.

In these letters, Attorney Ken Hanson, Chair of OFCC's litigation section, details to the municipalities why their ordinances are invalid.

Hanson explained, "There has been a lot of bad information floating around, particularly with regard to so-called 'home rule' powers. This is not unexpected in the first ninety days of a new law. The purpose of these letters is to lay out in black and white exactly why the ordinances are invalid, and to give each letter recipient a last chance to avoid being sued over the offending ordinance."

In researching local ordinances for the upcoming litigation, OFCC learned that many media accounts of local ordinances were inaccurate. For instance, on March 24, the Delphos Herald published story stating that "council passed a motion declaring it illegal for anyone but a lawfully-licensed peace officer to possess or carry a concealed weapon in any city park..." But when inquiring with the village of Delphos, officials have explicitly stated that they have no such ordinance or rule, and that their ordinance mirrors R.C. 2923.12. Investigation of an April 27 article in the New Philadelphia Times Herald met with similar results from that city.

The city of Dover passed an ordinance enforcing a ban "to the extent permitted by law", which of course means the bans stop at the exits to city buildings. Other cities' officials, including those in Toledo and Columbus, have made misleading public statements about bans, and even posted signs on public property, without passing any new ordinance and apparently without any intention of enforcement.

On the other hand, some municipalities were found to have ordinances that clearly attempted to restrict concealed carry, in violation of applicable law. These municipalities, the ones that appear to have drawn a line in the sand, are the ones targeted by the letters, which have been received by the Mayors, Police Chiefs, and Council Members. The intent of the letters is to inform them that OFCC is immediately prepared to go to Court, if necessary, if they do not rescind their ordinance.

When officials in various municipalities were initially contacted by OFCC, not one responded with a legitimate reason for passing the ordinance.

"The only 'justification' offered are not-so-subtle implications that our children are going to be lying dead on playground equipment," said Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans For Concealed Carry. "They are playing on fear. No municipality has any facts or research to indicate that law-abiding, licensed gun owners pose any threat or danger, nor has any history of problems in other states been identified."

"It is incumbent upon those who would render citizens in secluded parks and jogging trails defenseless to offer proof that concealed handgun license-holders are causing problems," said Chad Baus, spokesman for OFCC. "As the law now reads, they have absolutely no authority to do what they've done, and a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General's office recently agreed."

OFCC has patiently attempted to inform local officials, through previous written correspondence, that what they've done is illegal. If necessary, lawsuits seeking declaratory and injunctive relief will be filed, during the first week of August, against those municipalities that fail to recind these illegal acts. OFCC will seek reimbursement for attorney's fees and Court costs in each case as well.

"The law on that subject is pretty clear," said Hanson. "If a defendant is being stubborn and ignoring their official duties, there is liability for costs and attorney fees from the resulting needless litigation."

"These laws cannot be allowed to continue on the books," said Garvas. "If the municipality chooses to ignore Ohio law, then the taxpayers of that community will bear the financial burden of their elected officials indifference."

Click here to download a .pdf copy of the letter sent to officials in the City of Clyde.

Related Story:
Second Amendment Foundation Endorses Ohio Group's Effort to Repeal Illegal Gun Laws

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