City of Toledo hangs ''park-ban hat'' on vague park rules ordinance

A full thirty minutes after park-ban protest leader Bruce Beatty and dozens of supporters arrived in Toledo's Ottawa Park yesterday, Toledo Police finally showed up and issued a citation to Mr. Beatty yesterday for carrying a concealed firearm in a city park.

Police cited Beatty for violating Toledo Municipal Code Section 131.02, Rule 18, which outlaws weapons in the city's parks. The citation, a minor misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $150, is based an old section of law that had been in effect previous to the passage of Ohio's concealed carry law, and one that will no doubt be challenged as having been preempted by the state's new concealed carry law upon passage last year.

Several news outlets mentioned the fact that although several (13ABC put the number at five) other people were also carrying their firearms, police did not investigate beyond Beatty.

From (Toledo):

    Beatty says the City of Toledo does not have the right to override the state's concealed carry law. Beatty tells NBC24, "The people spoke through the state legislature, who passed the law and sent it to the governor. And he signed it. That makes it the law of the land."

    And the dozens of protesters who joined Beatty agree that they have the right to pack heat in public, especially in city parks.

    Kim Sporer of Perrysburg states, "In the park, if I were alone, I would feel safer knowing that I was armed and could take care of myself, better than if I were unarmed."

    But Mayor Ford feels a park, where kids and adults come to play and relax, is the wrong place for guns. Ford says the police, not the people, should be carrying guns. The mayor says, "We have a police department that is designated to protect folks. That's their job."

And from the Toledo Blade:

    Sgt. Sandra Salinas cited Mr. Beatty for a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $150. He is scheduled to appear in Toledo Municipal Court on April 19.

    The officers did not check anyone else at the gathering, and they gave Mr. Beatty his gun back.

    Mayor Jack Ford said yesterday that under home rule, Toledo has the right to prohibit guns in the parks and the responsibility to take care of its residents.

    "We think we have the right, with home rule, to not have guns in certain places in the city," the mayor said.

    Mr. Beatty said he has talked with several lawyers and may file a complaint against the mayor at the city prosecutor's office tomorrow, claiming the mayor is violating his rights.

    He emphasized that the issue "isn't personal, it's business."

    He asked his supporters to treat the police officers with respect after someone pretended to sneeze, saying an expletive, and told the officers that he sympathized with their having to enforce what he sees as an illegal law.

    "I'm sorry the mayor has put you in this position," he said.

Beatty is scheduled to appear in Toledo Municipal Court on April 19.

The city of Clyde, Ohio, also tried to enforce a ban on guns in parks in spite of state law. Ohioans For Concealed Carry has taken that dispute to court, with final arguments in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court due June 17.

Click on the "Read More..." link below to review the park rules ordinance.

131.02. Parks, recreation and forestry rules and regulations.

The Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry shall adopt rules and
regulations governing the use of City owned parks and/or recreation facilities.
Such rules and regulations shall be published in the same manner and shall
have the same effect as the ordinances of the City.

(Ord. 560-98. Passed 3-17-98.)

131.99. Penalty.

Whoever violates any provision of any rule or regulation adopted under
Section 131.02, for which there is no other penalty provided, is guilty of a
minor misdemeanor. If the offender persists in violating such rule or regulation
after reasonable warning or request to desist, violation of the rule or
regulation is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

(Ord. 714-87. Passed 9-1-87.)

Related Stories:
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OH Atty Gen files Motion to Intervene in OFCC suit against City of Clyde

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