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Updated: City Council Repeals Law That Bans Gun Owners from Carrying Weapons in Public Parks

Council repealed this and other firearm regulations at its meeting Tuesday night

Updated 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Wednesday

Cleveland Heights City Council passed legislation Tuesday night that that ban gun owners from carrying weapons in public parks and other firearm regulations. 

The ordinance was passed on an emergency basis, so it will take effect immediately. 

The action came nearly a month after gun rights organization Ohioans for Concealed Carry sued Cleveland Heights because it said the city's firearm regulations conflicted with state laws. 

Law Director John Gibbon said those regulations have not been enforced, and the city just needed to clean up the books. 

Gibbon said Tuesday he planned to file a motion to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court to dismiss the case, as it is now moot that the laws have been repealed. 

OFCC President Jeff Garvas said in August that Cleveland Heights would have to pay for the organization's court fees if it is found that the laws violate the Ohio Revised Code. 

Chris Harben, compliance coordinator for the OFCC, said the organization would continue to pursue the case.

"We're very happy council has done this, but frankly this should have been done some time ago," Harben said. "I know the law director made the comment that we were being zealous in following this lawsuit, but my comment to that is that this has been at least a couple of years that we've made these efforts ... He didn't do his job until he was sued."

Derek DeBrosse, general counsel for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, said he still plans to go to the hearing, scheduled Sept. 12, and has not heard from the city yet.

"The case should not be dismissed ... we are going to proceed in the same path as before so they don't do this again," DeBrosse said. "We got what we wanted at the end of the day, but the law is clear that we are entitled to attorney fees."

He said the OFCC is also planning an "open carry" event and a family cookout at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at so that gun owners can freely exercise their right to bear arms.

"We hope that a message is sent loud and clear across the state that (cities) have to comply with Ohio law, and we'll keep pursuing these types of lawsuits if we have to," he said.

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Nearly a month after a gun rights organization , City Council will most likely approve repealing laws that ban licensed gun owners from carrying weapons in public parks and other firearm regulations at its meeting tonight.

On Aug. 12, Ohioans for Concealed Carry filed a lawsuit, and said more than a dozen Cleveland Heights ordinances violate the Ohio Revised Code, including ones that prohibit guns in public parks, require gun owners obtain a city ID card, and mandate that dealers follow city record-keeping requirements and get a license to sell guns.

The ordinances conflict with state laws, so the city has not enforced them, said Law Director John Gibbon. 

“The (OFCC) did call me on a couple of occasions and reminded me of the fact that we need to amend our ordinances,” Gibbon said. “I told them at the time that we were not enforcing (them,) and that I would try to get to it. But in their zeal, they decided to file the lawsuit, so that was a reminder.” 

City Council will consider repealing nearly 20 specific laws that ban licensed gun owners from carrying weapons in public parks, mandate that gun owners receive a city-issued ID card and prohibit gun dealers from displaying merchandise in windows, among other ordinances. 

“It’s just one of those situations of periodically needing to clean up your books and amend your ordinances to comply with the changes in the laws as they come along,” Gibbon said. 

Once the changes are approved, Gibbon said he will file a motion with the court to dismiss the case. Gibbon said he expects that the court will dismiss it. 

Gibbon said he is also taking care of another primary OFCC complaint. He has instructed the city to take down signs in public parks that indicate the city prohibits everyone, regardless of whether they have a license, from carrying weapons. 

Chris Harben, compliance coordinator for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, said in August that he and others from the group have been calling the city since 2007 about the specific violation.

“I had a conversation with the law director myself trying to get this resolved ... There was at least three attempts to resolve this without having to go to court,” Harben said, adding that the last conversation was in May.

Gibbon said this is an “academic exercise” with the OFCC, and that no one has been inconvenienced because the laws have not been enforced.

Cleveland Heights Patch will update this story and speak to a representative from Ohioans for Concealed Carry once a decision is made regarding the ordinances. 

Editor's Note: An earlier edition of this article indicated that the open carry event would be at Cain Park.

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