AMHERST — When a lawsuit regarding the city’s firearm ordinances was filed by Ohioans for Concealed Carry against Oberlin earlier this month, Amherst took the news as a wake-up call.
“We saw we needed to rectify (Amherst’s firearm ordinance),” Amherst Law Director Tony Pecora said.
The ordinance in question states that no one is allowed to carry firearms — concealed or visible — in a park without authorization from a park director. Pecora said this ordinance, which was created in 1995, conflicts with an Ohio Revised Code, created in 2007, which states that no local ordinance can prohibit concealed carry weapons in public places like a park.
“It’s in violation … We want to change that,” Pecora said.
Amherst City Council members will bring the question of whether to change the city’s ordinance to comply with Ohio law to a vote at a meeting Monday. Pecora said that a vote of this nature would normally go through multiple readings, but the Council decided that if it is passed, the decision should be put into effect immediately.
Pecora said that the knowledge of the Oberlin lawsuit was the main reason that he re-examined Amherst’s own ordinances.
“(The 1995 ordinance) has never been enforced … it’s never been an issue,” Pecora said.
For Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, Pecora’s efforts to do away with the ordinance is merely the first step.
“We’ve offered to work with (Amherst) to go through their ordinances,” Garvas said, adding that he hopes to help Amherst find all ordinances that might be in conflict with Ohio’s firearms laws.
However, Garvas stresses that Amherst and other towns generally do not ignore their ordinances on purpose.
“It’s not like they’re doing something nefarious …. The gun (ordinances) were probably never enforced … often it’s because they just didn’t know,” Garvas said.
Garvas added that Ohioans for Concealed Carry, which is based out of Grandville, Mich., has contacted between 100 and 150 cities around Ohio, asking them to change their gun ordinances to comply with state law.