Toledo, county leaders denounce gun bill


Toledo City Council and the Lucas County Commissioners took aim Tuesday at the “stand your ground” bill pending in the state legislature that would ease restrictions on the use of handguns.

In approving a resolution opposing House Bill 203, the county commissioners joined a growing list of Ohio communities taking stands against proposed changes to the state’s concealed-weapons law.

Commissioner Pete Gerken said language in the bill could create a dangerous situation during instances when people feel threatened, even though a gun is not present.

“That is wrong, and that is not we want in the state of Ohio and in the county,” Mr. Gerken said.

Later in the day, city council voted 11-1 to approve a similar resolution, adding Toledo to a list of Ohio cities opposed to the bill that already includes Akron, Canton, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Youngstown.

Toledo Councilman Lindsay Webb brought up the Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin before criticizing the proposal before state lawmakers.

“Quite frankly, the laws we have on the books are adequate,” Ms. Webb said.

Tom Waniewski, who cast council’s dissenting vote, said the resolution was “dumped in council’s lap” and that he instead favors letting the legislature debate the issue.

“ ‘Stand your ground’ is a very complicated issue, and it’s not one that you pass a resolution on just to make people feel good,” he said.

City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said Mayor Mike Bell, like the majority of council, does not support the state bill.

The legislation, introduced in July in the Ohio House by state Rep. Terry Johnson (R., McDermott), would broaden the circumstances under which lawful Ohio gun owners have no legal duty to retreat before using potentially deadly force to defend themselves when assaulted, to any “place that the person lawfully has a right to be.”

Also, a statewide petition against the legislation was organized by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, a group of 14 civic, community, clergy, student, and union organizations. A rally is scheduled for today at the Ohio Statehouse to deliver the signatures and attend the opening legislative session.

Staff writers Mark Reiter and Ignazio Messina compiled this report.