Officials are hoping for new legislation on gun use.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Since the recent shooting of a dog in a residential neighborhood, many township residents are looking for stiffer laws on gun use, but township officials say that just isn't possible -- yet.
On the afternoon of April 16, a 24-year-old Shadyside Drive man fired a shot from a second-story bedroom window, killing a 45-pound dog that belonged to another family in the area. The man disposed of the dog's remains in a trash bin.
Residents in the Shadyside Drive neighborhood were appalled by the man's actions, but residents throughout the township, many of whom flooded talk radio and police phone lines, were equally shocked at the criminal charges against the man.
James Terranova is charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and felony tampering with evidence. He has pleaded innocent in Boardman area court.
Residents, police officials and trustees want stiffer charges in relation to the use of the gun. But townships, even those under home rule such as Boardman, are not permitted to enact ordinances dealing with the possession, use or sale of firearms.
"This is all pretty straight-forward and has been in the home rule legislation since 1991," said township administrator Curt Seditz.
According to Seditz, the ability to control firearms in townships was one of the main sticking points when the state decided to allow home rule to townships in the mid-1990s. It was decided then that gun ordinances would not be allowed.
Seditz said, however, there is one ray of hope for some home rule townships that wish to control the use of firearms in residential areas. He said an amended section to the home rule legislation says that any township that has voted to become a home rule township and has more than 15,000 residents will be considered an urban township.
Legislation can then be addressed in those home rule townships that are considered urban.
Trustee Elaine Mancini has contacted the Coalition of Large Ohio Urban Townships and Trustee Tom Costello has solicited help from state Rep. Ken Carano to see what, if any, legislation can be drawn for urban townships to handle firearms.
"I am not trying to stop hunters from going out or whatever, but when I heard we could do nothing about guns' being fired from a home-rule standpoint, I contacted Ken Carano. I just don't want people firing off guns in the township," said Costello.
State representatives are looking into the situation, but the bottom line is that legislation has to be changed to allow for some control, Costello said.
Police Chief Jeffrey Patterson said his department will work within the parameters of the law to address situations where individuals are firing guns in residential areas.
"We will naturally go to any call where someone has a gun," he said.
Patterson said the Ohio Revised Code clearly spells out what firearm uses are prohibited in townships:
* Firing a gun at or into an occupied structure or school safety zone is a felony.
* Firing a gun from a motor vehicle or firing a gun around a cemetery, park, church, schoolhouse or over a public highway is a misdemeanor.
Patterson said Terranova will likely face an additional charge of firing a gun over a highway since the dog was said to have been standing across the street from Terranova's house.
Patterson said there are also other charges a person can face in these situations, such as disorderly conduct.
Costello said officials are going to explore every possibility in gaining some control over how guns are used in certain areas of the township.
"We are going to do everything we can, but it is a matter of how far the state will allow us to take this," he said.