City council repeals firearms measure after lawsuit filed by Ohio concealed carry group

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the City of Cleveland Heights has repealed firearms ordinances following a lawsuit by Ohioans for Concealed Carry.

From the article:

City Council unanimously approved the measure at its Sept. 6 meeting, after the interest group filed to seek a permanent injunction against the city in mid-August for passing legislation that superceded state law. This included a ban against carrying a gun in a city park; which state law allows under its uniform gun law approved in 2006.

According to Law Director John Gibbon, a pre-trial meeting scheduled for Sept. 12 was cancelled by the court following word of council's action. OCC — which was also seeking attorney's fees in the suit — now has until Oct. 14 to file opposition to the city's motion to dismiss the suit, which had been assigned to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge David Matia, Gibbon said.

Prior to the pre-trial meeting cancellation, OCC President Jeff Garvas indicated the lawsuit would proceed, despite the fact the legislation had been repealed. He said the group wanted the court to issue an official ruling stating the city's legislation was in fact in violation of state law, to issue an injunction against the city prohibiting it from approving similar legislation in the future and to award the OCC legal fees.

"We're absolutely going to proceed with the lawsuit," he said.

According to the article, OFCC contends the city has been uncooperative in efforts to have its firearms legislation updated since at least 2008, when the group sent the city a letter requesting ordinances superceding state be repealed or amended, citing a successful lawsuit against the City of Clyde in Ohio Supreme Court earlier that year. In a September 2008 e-mail posted on the OCC website, former City Councilman Mark Tumeo wrote, "...we are having our Legal Counsel examine the ruling and the Council will take all necessary steps to come into compliance with the ruling."

The OCC feels the city did not act soon enough, with Garvas claiming officials had been "stone walling" the group and residents for years.

"When individuals have contacted them representing themselves as residents of the City of Cleveland Heights, their concerns apparently fell on deaf ears. When representatives of the organization have formally contacted the city's legal representation they've been laughed at and hung up on by the Law Director. It is this arrogance and refusal to work with Ohioans For Concealed Carry that have forced us to seek a remedy through the courts," a posting on the OCC website states.

Gibbon, who said the legislation "had been on the books for some time," maintains the city decided to wait for the eventual outcome of a December 2010 Cleveland case, in which the Ohio Supreme Court upheld Ohio's right to pass a uniform statewide gun law, before amending its own ordinances. He said the ordinances were slated to be included in the city's yearly legislative "clean-up" at the end of this year, even before the OCC filed suit.

Gibbon told the newspaper he believes the city "acted prudently" in waiting for the outcome of the Cleveland case.

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