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Published: Wednesday, 4/3/2013

Group calls for universal gun background checks

Gerber slaying highlighted at news conference

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner speaks during a news conference at Southland Shopping Center, the site of a recent domestic violence shooting which claimed the life of Kaitlin Gerber. Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner speaks during a news conference at Southland Shopping Center, the site of a recent domestic violence shooting which claimed the life of Kaitlin Gerber.
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Though Toledo Police still have not said what kind of gun was used by Jashua Perz or how he got it, Ohio gun control advocates and two Toledo politicians today highlighted Perz's shooting last week of 20-year-old Kaitlin Gerber outside a South Toledo shopping center as reason for the nation to move ahead with universal background checks.

Progress Ohio, a liberal advocacy group, and Toledo-based Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, joined with former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and current Democratic mayoral candidate Joe McNamara in calling for Congress to act on background checks.

They stood near the impromptu memorial of cards, candles, flowers, and stuffed animals that has accumulated in grief for Miss Gerber, 20, of South Toledo, next to the Southland Shopping Center at Byrne Road near Glendale Avenue.

Miss Gerber was shot by the 29-year-old Perz March 24 as she fled from him in her car. Hours later, he committed suicide. Perz, a former boyfriend, was a felon and was prohibited from owning guns. In addition, he was under a court order to have no contact with Miss Gerber, and was awaiting sentencing in Sylvania Municipal Court for violating that order while he was in jail serving a sentence for domestic violence.

Toledo Police have said only that an unknown type of handgun was used, and are continuing their investigation into the shooting.

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Mr. McNamara said statistics show that fewer women are shot to death by partners in states that have broader background check laws. He said he supports “a commonsense approach towards curbing gun violence.”

Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence said no weapon should be sold without a check of the buyer’s background to make sure they are not a felon, domestic abusers, children, or a person adjudicated as mentally ill.

Progress Ohio's Brian Rothenberg, left, Toby Hoover from the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, right, pause at a memorial site for Kaitlin Gerber. Progress Ohio's Brian Rothenberg, left, Toby Hoover from the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, right, pause at a memorial site for Kaitlin Gerber.
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“The whole country is calling for background checks on all gun sales and we’re going to keep calling for it until we get it,” said Ms. Hoover, of Perrysburg.

Mr. Finkbeiner blasted Congress as fearing pressure from the National Rifle Association, which opposes expanded background checks.

“Get some backbone, get some fiber, do the right thing,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, cited polls he said show that 82 percent of Americans support background checks in all instances of gun sales, including gun shows where such checks are currently not required.

Opponents of increased background checks say the plan would be ineffective and would affect mainly law-abiding gun owners, and that the emphasis should be on improving the current system's record-keeping or making sure that mentally ill persons are in the database.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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