Gun control opponents present case to council

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

Opponents of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s proposed gun control legislation used a mix of statistics and tales of attackers foiled to make their case to council last night.

“People would be imprisoned or fined for doing the same things they’ve done for decades without hurting anyone,” said John Mueller, who was in charge of the ad hoc group testifying against the legislation.

Gun control proponents made their arguments at a public hearing on Nov. 12. Last night was the opponents’ chance, and they made the most of it, sending dozens of speakers to the podium.

Leading off was John Lott, a University of Chicago law school professor who said that critics of guns have used statistics out of context to promote their claims.

Among the points he made:

* Guns protect people from a crime more often than they are involved in one.

* Accidental deaths from guns are less common than usually perceived.

* Proposed required gun locks would make guns too expensive for most people to afford.

“Quality, reliability – I mean, these are nice things for wealthy people,” Mr. Lott said. “How many of those poor people are we going to be pricing out of being able to protect themselves?”

Councilman Peter Gerken, however, took issue with Mr. Lott’s statements on gun locks, which are a part of the mayor’s proposal.

Mr. Gerken said gun manufacturers are opposing gun lock laws just as auto manufacturers initially opposed laws requiring seat belts and air bags in vehicles.

“Those companies said it would make the cost of a car prohibitive, just as gun manufacturers are doing,” he said.

The four proposed gun ordinances would require handgun registration, allow prosecution for allowing children access to guns without a trigger lock, and ban possession of “Saturday night specials” and assault weapons.

Gun control opponents said that the bills are too nebulous in defining terms and could make many guns illegal or ban some guns while keeping nearly identical ones legal.

Some of the most powerful testimony was by people who had used guns to fight off attackers or prevent violence.

The Rev. Mark Montgomery of Rossford said he and his wife used guns to frighten off an intruder they believed would kill them.

“I gave him three seconds to leave, and on the count of two, the front door slammed,” he said. “I’m not a hunter, but I am a shooter, and I’m married to one.”

Jean Weddle described calling police after she scared away a man who was throwing bricks through her window – only to have Toledo police take away her handgun because she did not have a handgun identification card as required under city law.

“They seemed more interested in taking my gun than in what happened,” Ms. Weddle said.

The talk of foiled attackers apparently summoned a memory for one council member.

Councilman Betty Shultz thanked Mr. Montgomery for his story because it made her remember a time when she was a teenager and someone tried to break into her home when her parents were away.

“That was the first time I touched a loaded revolver,” she said. “The man didn’t break in.”

Council will hold a hearing on the proposals Monday with representatives from both sides present. Council could take a vote on the ordinances at that time.