OHIO New bill aims to erase limitations cities place on concealed weapons
COLUMBUS (AP) -- The sponsor of Ohio's law allowing concealed weapons said Monday he wants the state to override local bans on types of guns, a move that would cancel Columbus' decision to outlaw assault weapons.
Columbus' ban is the reason the National Rifle Association decided Monday to drop the city from hosting its 2007 national convention, a top NRA official said.
The gun rights organization had planned to hold its annual three-day event, drawing as many as 60,000 people, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The convention was expected to generate $15 million to $20 million for city businesses, but other groups have shown interest in meeting in the city the week the NRA was to have its meeting, said Paul Astleford, president of the city's convention and visitors bureau.
State Rep. Jim Aslanides, sponsor of the law permitting people to carry hidden guns, said local weapons bans should not be allowed, because Ohioans should feel confident they are not breaking the law by carrying weapons through the state's cities and villages.
Such a law would supersede the Columbus ban, said Aslanides, a Coshocton Republican.
"It would solidify specifically that a statewide weapons law cannot be pre-empted. The purpose of that is not to stop what's occurred in Columbus, but to stop the arrests of people carrying legally," Aslanides said.
Attorney General Jim Petro cannot take a position until Aslanides introduces his bill, Petro spokeswoman Kim Norris said. "He hasn't seen the language in this proposal about city ordinances, so it's impossible to comment on that specific recommendation," Norris said.
House Speaker Jon Husted, a suburban Dayton Republican, had not spoken with Aslanides about his proposal but would review the issue once it's introduced, spokeswoman Karen Tabor said.
NRA snubs city
The NRA was clear about why it's skipping Columbus.
"The party is canceled because last week your City Council unanimously voted to revoke the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in Columbus by banning perfectly legal firearms," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in a statement.
Last week, City Council passed the ban on the sale or possession of semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips and detachable magazines.
Councilman Michael Mentel said the NRA knew when it scheduled the convention that the city was considering a weapons ban and used the Columbus law to seek publicity.
"I do think it is a ruse. They knew exactly what was going on in Columbus," Mentel said.
Mayor Michael Coleman said that the NRA and other groups won't dictate city policy and that the ban will make the city safer, which will attract convention business overall.
"Come to the city of Columbus with the knowledge that this weapons ban is passed and in place," Coleman said.
Federal lawsuits successfully overturned two previous attempts by Columbus to ban assault weapons, which tried to outlaw specific models. Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo are among the Ohio cities with some kind of weapons ban.
The current ban tries to distinguish between sporting weapons and military-style assault weapons. The law applies to guns with any of several features, such as detachable bullet magazines, a pistol grip or a grip for the non-shooting hand, council spokesman Wyatt Kingseed said.
LaPierre says the NRA would return to Columbus if lawmakers pass a law overriding the Columbus ban. The NRA, which announced its selection of Columbus in May, also considered Portland, Ore., and Reno, Nev., for the annual event.
The convention is used as a forum for addressing gun-related issues, and guns and accessories are displayed. No guns are sold, but orders can be placed on the exhibit-hall floor.
Aslanides said the NRA snub had nothing to do with his plans. He told legislative leaders he wanted to revisit the bill Gov. Bob Taft signed in 2004 to make changes.
"We're not responding to the Columbus issue. We're dealing with gun issues that have come up in our office the last two years," he said.
Coleman opposes Aslanides' idea, said Mike Brown, the mayor's spokesman.