May Council Meetings – Gun Safety – Why Each Vote and Voice Matters

City Council meet on May 4th and May 18th for its regular meetings.

The first meeting had a very light agenda – 2 resolutions, one to authorize the latest allocation of funds from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021  (some call it ‘the Covid Relief Plan’ the same one that increased Child Tax Credits and sent individual ‘relief’ checks to households) – overview here and more detail here.  The part Council had to act on was related to the City’s share of the $360 Billion in local funds distributed which was distributed in two deposits each one around $584,000.   (The second resolution was related to the workers compensation insurance group a portion of the City would join.)

The May 18th meeting was also light on topics but not importance.

State Laws updates – 2022 S-24 Supplement

Throughout the year the State of Ohio makes updates to the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) also know as ‘State Law’.  This is known as the ‘S-XX Supplement’ that pushes down and updates local laws where required to match changes done at the State.  There are some aspects where the City can decide its own laws (aka. ‘Home Rule’) and others where the State or Federal Government has controls.

The supplement comes as a packet where anyone can review the changes (the pages reference the current local laws and list the changes).  In some cases the local governments have the ability to accept or reject some aspects – though largely the update is administrative and ‘required’.

I always review these changes in detail and compare them to our current laws.  As I have said before I am not a lawyer – but you don’t need to be a licensed attorney to review the changes – and for the most part the language is very easy to understand.  More importantly as a local law maker I certainly feel it is important to understand the changes as much as practical.   Reading over the supplement by myself in the City Building leading up to the meeting I was reminded of a Bill that was introduced at the Federal Levelbut died without a vote that would require any bill introduced to be posted for review at least double the minutes as there are pages in the Bill.

At every level of government each one of us should be able to count on our lawmakers to at least read the laws they are passing before changing how each of us are required to live our lives.

This update was around 30 pages and many of those were administrative.  That being said there were two updates included that have real impacts of everyday life here in Springdale.

S-24 Supplement E-Bike, E-Scooters, E-… – ‘Micromobility Devices’

As part of the updates the State of Ohio updated the permitted uses of these devices on shared use paths (think running / bike mixed use paths).  It described requirements for riders to announce their presence before passing (‘on the left’) and to always yield to pedestrians.  This is important for us all to keep in mind as the City goes through its creation of a Bike and Pedestrian Connectivity Plan.

Knowing these devices are increasing in popularity combined with updated laws we can ensure any new paths and signage we create account for these updates.  The Rules and Laws subcommittee is meeting in the coming weeks and months to take a hard look at any changes we need to make to accommodate.

S-24 Supplement Ohio’s Version of ‘Stand Your Ground’

There is no question in my mind that the bill passed by Ohio’s legislature – notably only republican party members voting for the bill while bipartisan votes against it in both House and Senate votes – is flawed.  This bill builds on what is known as ‘the Castle Doctrine’ in Ohio that throughout much of Ohio law a person in their own home has wide protections and allowances to protect themselves, families, and property.  This bill extends that by taking away the duty for Ohioans to try to retreat in public areas before using force in self defense (as long as the aggression was sufficient to warrant self defense.)

So picture yourself in what you feel is a dangerous situation (the standard for what is actually dangerous seems ever a moving target – and from what I understand just the ‘reasonable’ belief you were in danger is enough) say in the parking lot between the rec center / pool and the police station late June and you see a teen charging you with a bat in hand.  This law update removes your obligation to shout out for help and bunker down or even duck into that police station for help even if it would be safe to do so – rather just pull out the handgun you bought – one you got without a background check because you bought it as a private sale at any number of local gun shows – that you don’t even have training or a concealed carry permit for thanks to constitutional carry law passed in March and start blasting away.  It may even be the first time you have ever fired this deadly weapon.

(And now picture yourself as the shooter who finds out too late that the teenager you thought running at you with a bat was really just a kid running to his mom’s minivan behind you after baseball practice… if you think that is a contrived situation, take some time to read some of the cases where ‘stand your ground’ has been used…)

What about – ‘The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun’  – utter nonsense – and shown not to even be the goal based on recent law changes.  In an Ohio where background checks to prevent bad people from getting weapons is blocked, dangerous and unstable people from buying in a rage with waiting periods blocked, training and certification requirements removed – even drivers licenses in Ohio come with an eye exam and a written and practical test.   US Civilians have over 393 Million firearms – over 120 firearms for every 100 resident.  The typical gun owner is 65+ white republican party male…, when you combine that with data that shows stand your ground laws are significantly more successful defense for whites and stand your ground laws are in practice racist and protect abusers over victims and increase gun violence.

The 2022 SR-24 update is dangerous, and the ever creeping loosening of common sense gun laws is not something I am willing to be even a passive participant in.  I brought the topic up and explained I was not willing to add Stand Your Ground to Springdale’s Code (aka local laws).

There are safer ways to accomplish the goals here while allowing those that feel scared to leave their house without packing military weapons of war including commonsense licensing, training, and certification that don’t fall into the fallacy that any regulation is an infringement on my rights and safety.

Source: https://www.bradyunited.org/press-releases/standwithohio-coalition-condemns-dewine-stand-your-ground

In practice my ‘No’ vote was just one vote with the other 6 members voting to adopt the SR-22 update without changes – and even if it was not adopted the State law would still allow the defense – standing by without speaking out felt like it would be a moral failure … so here we are.

It was still a chance for a vote – don’t be misled that a vote a ‘certain way’ is required by any official regardless of political party or level of government.  Each legislative elected official has a vote and a voice – where they choose to use it and how is entirely up to them.

There was a chance to amend the legislation, draft a resolution back to the State (which the City has done before for more mundane items like tax collection systems or zoning laws regarding pets), or amending the local laws to remove conflicting language without actively affirming this dangerous ‘Stand your Ground’ revision.

So what else can be done?  I can tell you what I have done in addition to standing my own legislative ground by saying ‘No’ – I have and am continuing to lobby my state and federal representatives to address these laws… and you can too!

Take a look at gun safety advocacy groups like Mom’s Demand Action, The Brady Campaign, Everytown, and the Newtown Action Alliance.

These sites have tools that make it easy to find and send messages to your State and National representatives as well as other ways to get involved.  You never know which note, story, message, connection with another person could change their views.  It might be your email to your state legislator saying – “ENOUGH!” that connects and allows the change we need.

 

!!! 6/8 Update – What a timely example: CNN just reported that similar efforts have had an impact in Conservative Wyoming – “Conservative Wyoming senator rethinking gun legislation after constituents flood her office with calls urging action.”  A simple call, email, or letter can really have a meaningful impact!

 


What do you think?  Let your elected officials know!

email and phone numbers of all your City Council members are online – https://www.springdale.org/member-profiles.aspx

and

City Administration as well –
https://www.springdale.org/mayor-and-clerk-of-council.aspx


Related Links

ICRC Meeting Recording Link (5/4), Link (5/18)
Written Minutes Link (5/4), Link (5/18)
Agenda Link (5/4), Link (5/18)

 

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