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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Advocate gets court date to challenge city's gun law

Bruce Beatty observes the 1st anniversary of legislation allowing concealed-carry in Ohio with a birthday cake in Ottawa Park at his pistol-packing picnic. Bruce Beatty observes the 1st anniversary of legislation allowing concealed-carry in Ohio with a birthday cake in Ottawa Park at his pistol-packing picnic.

Bruce Beatty got just what he wanted yesterday - a court date.

The Luckey, Ohio, resident held a party in Ottawa Park to challenge Toledo's prohibition on concealed weapons in parks.

"I'm totally prepared to go to court and fight it," he said.

Mr. Beatty contends that Toledo's prohibition violates Ohio's concealed-carry law, which went into effect April 8, 2004. The state law specifically prohibits concealed weapons from schools, government buildings, and places of worship, but does not mention parks.

Mr. Beatty, who believes that Toledo does not have the right to ban concealed weapons in parks, announced in late March that he would take his gun to Ottawa Park. He wore his 45-caliber pistol in a holster under his jacket.

Once everyone was gathered, Mr. Beatty waited about 30 minutes for the police to arrive. As two officers approached, Mr. Beatty's supporters photographed and videotaped them.

Sgt. Sandra Salinas cited Mr. Beatty for a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $150. He is scheduled to appear in Toledo Municipal Court on April 19.

The officers did not check anyone else at the gathering, and they gave Mr. Beatty his gun back.

Mayor Jack Ford said yesterday that under home rule, Toledo has the right to prohibit guns in the parks and the responsibility to take care of its residents.

"We think we have the right, with home rule, to not have guns in certain places in the city," the mayor said.

Mr. Beatty said he has talked with several lawyers and may file a complaint against the mayor at the city prosecutor's office tomorrow, claiming the mayor is violating his rights.

He emphasized that the issue "isn't personal, it's business."

He asked his supporters to treat the police officers with respect after someone pretended to sneeze, saying an expletive, and told the officers that he sympathized with their having to enforce what he sees as an illegal law.

"I'm sorry the mayor has put you in this position," he said.

About 25 people, mostly men, joined Mr. Beatty near the park's tennis courts off Parkside Boulevard, across from a playground and a group of teenagers playing Frisbee.

Some of the ban's supporters say it protects the safety of children. One Temperance resident at the party said he would rather see guns stay out of parks because accidents can happen.

"I think kids' safety is first," said Glenn, who would not give his last name.

Toledoan Ed Jacobs said concealed handguns are allowed in other places where young people congregate.

"There are thousands of Ohioans who are carrying handguns in shopping malls," he said.

The city of Clyde, Ohio, has a similar ban on guns in parks. The dispute there has gone to court, with final arguments in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court due June 17.

Contact Elizabeth A. Shack at: eshack@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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