Toledo officials offer contradictory statements on park ban challenge

Judging by recent coverage in the Toledo Blade, city officials are beginning to contradict themselves publicly as they struggle to decide how to deal with an activist who has announced he will challenge the city's ban on carrying firearms for self-defense in parks next week.

Yesterday, Toledo City Councilman Wilma Brown told the newspaper she would try to stop the parks department from issuing a permit for the gathering by claiming it carrying firearms in the park would be a political statement. She said that is prohibited in a public park.

But today, city law director Barb Herring contradicted Brown, announcing that advocates of the state's concealed-carry law can gather at Toledo's Ottawa Park next week, even though the event's organizer does not have a permit.

From the story:

    Bruce Beatty does not need a permit as long as it remains a small gathering April 9, city Law Director Barb Herring said. Still, Mr. Beatty's plan to carry his 45-caliber, semi-automatic handgun to the park won't be tolerated, she and others said.

    "We want to be sure that our citizens feel safe in the parks. If need be, we will provide an appropriate response," Mayor Jack Ford said in a written statement.

If Mayor Ford truly believes bans can prevent criminal activity, it is cause to wonder why he didn't order the posting of "NO RAPING CHILDREN" signs in Toledo parks last summer after an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at Toledo's Danny Thomas Park.

That aside, other contradictions by city officials are creeping into news stories.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

For example, Herring told the Blade yesterday that the city of Toledo justifies its ban, which Attorney General Jim Petro has called unenforceable, "by relying on a municipal code that gives its parks director the authority to pass rules in the parks - rules that set hours of operations or ban alcohol, for example."

Later in the same story, however, Toledo police Deputy Chief Derrick Diggs, said of the gathering: "The law is the law, and we can't have people out there violating the law."

So which is it, a law, or a park rule?

Perhaps the most laughable argument offered by the city law director was that because state law allows private property owners to prohibit guns on their premises, by extension the city of Toledo bans guns in parks on behalf of its citizens.

"We heard from a lot of our citizens, and, despite what the gun lobby says, they don't want people carrying weapons in those parks. They want their children to play in those parks," Ms. Herring told reporters.

It is likely that pro-self-defense Toledoans feel quite un-represented after hearing Herring's comments. After all, it's their property too.

(Barbara Herring may be contacted at 419-245-1020 or by emailing [email protected])

Furthermore, we all wish "wants" were enough to keep our armed sexual predators, child molestors, robbers, murderers, etc. out of our parks, neighborhoods and communities. But as it is with "no guns" signs, the "wants" of the defenseless for violent criminals to leave them alone are just not enough.

OFCC's Chad Baus has provided the following statement to media queries on Beatty's efforts:

    "Ohioans For Concealed Carry agrees with Beatty's assertion that the state's concealed carry law preempts local gun control laws - laws which do nothing to deter criminals and succeed only in creating defenseless victims. As an organization, OFCC has chosen to represent our membership via litigation. Any appellate ruling on our suit against the City of Clyde, which Attorney General Petro has intervened in on our behalf, would take precedence over the City of Toledo.

    Mr. Beatty, as an individual, has chosen the grassroots method of civil disobedience. While we would never advocate law-breaking, we most certainly support the right of Ohioans to express themselves appropriately when their elected officials begin to act as a law unto themselves."

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