Ohio Court Strikes Down Ban On Guns In Parks

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a city law that banned people from carrying concealed guns in public parks, saying it conflicts with a state law that established a uniform policy on firearms.

In a 4-3 decision, the court said the city of Clyde's home-rule powers don't allow it override the 2004 state law that allowed people to get a permit to carry concealed weapons.

The city, about 40 miles southeast of Toledo, complained that the state gun law allows owners of private property to ban concealed weapons but denies public entities the same option. Ohio also bans concealed weapons from most public buildings, including stadiums and arenas but not parks.

Writing for the majority, Justice Terrence O'Donnell said there's a distinction between private and public property.

"Public property is owned by the taxpayers and is accessible to all," O'Donnell wrote. "If there were no distinction made between public and private property as the dissent suggests, then a municipality could in the future choose to expand the prohibition from public parks to public sidewalks and roadways, and eventually to all public property."

A message seeking comment was left for attorney John McDonald, who represented the city of Clyde.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Paul Pfeifer said there is no rational basis to distinguish between the legal rights of private and public property on this issue.

"Clyde owns its municipal park. Is there any reason why the owner of this property, where families gather and children play, should be forced to allow people with guns to enter, while the private owner of a public space such as a shopping mall can bar from entry any gun-carrying citizens?" Pfeifer wrote.

The ruling was a victory for Ohioans for Concealed Carry, which sued the city and said that parks are a prime spot for criminals and that park visitors should be able to protect themselves. A message seeking comment was left for the attorney who represented the group.