Columbus City Leaders Standing By Gun Ban
By Susan Jones
CNSNews.com Senior Editor
July 19, 2005
(CNSNews.com) -- Gun control advocates in Columbus, Ohio, accuse the
National Rifle Association of trying to "bully" them, and they say they will
stand firmly in support of a gun ban -- even though it will cost the city
millions of dollars in lost business.
Second Amendment supporters hope the gun ban may also cost city council
members their jobs come election time.
The NRA announced on Monday that it would take its 2007 convention business
elsewhere now that Columbus has passed a citywide ban on semi-automatic
"Let me say, that we are not for sale; and we're going to stand by this;
they won't hold us hostage," said Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman on Monday.
City officials insist the semi-automatic weapons ban -- which follows the
expiration of a similar federal ban last September -- will make Columbus
But the National Rifle Association's Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre
said the ban gives law-abiding Columbus residents less freedom and fewer
rights than citizens who live outside the city limits.
City Councilman Mike Mentel, who proposed the semi-automatic weapons ban,
called the NRA's announcement a "ruse" and questioned the group's motives in
backing out of the convention, when it has known since last December that
Columbus was considering a semi-automatic weapons ban.
"What changed is they actually carried through and passed this ridiculous
proposal," LaPierre said on Monday.
A defensive Councilman Mentel said the gun ban contains an exemption for gun
collectors, but Second Amendment supporters are concerned about the gun ban
itself - not the exemptions.
A Columbus television station reported the Columbus convention center is now
in talks with four other conventioneers that combined, would bring in about
as much money as the NRA would have done on its own.
Standing with police
Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,
praised Columbus officials for passing "sensible restrictions" on
semi-automatic weapons, and he urged city leaders to "stand tough for public
"What the NRA's leader said to the people of Columbus...is, 'Let us set
public policy, or we won't visit your city.' That must never be the
agreement in a civilized democracy," Barnes said.
Barnes said Columbus residents should be proud of their leaders for "proving
the city will stand with the police and won't back down from bullies."
The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, a group that lobbied for passage of
the Columbus gun ban ordinance, said it is "astonished" by the NRA's
The group says the ordinance to "regulate assault weapons" was intended to
"protect the safety" police officers and Columbus families.
"It is astonishing that the extremist leadership of this organization thinks
it can bully and intimidate local lawmakers and municipalities that are
working to reduce gun violence and address the threat of assault weapons on
our streets," said Toby Hoover, executive director of the Ohio Coalition
Against Gun Violence.
"We applaud the city of Columbus for standing up to the extremist leadership
of this organization and hope their courage becomes an example to other
communities and lawmakers," said Hoover.
Likewise, Sue Ann Schiff, executive director of the Legal Community Against
Violence, said Columbus "has the right to decide what regulation it needs to
keep the community safe from gun violence."
The LCAV also applauded the city "for refusing to be bullied and for
choosing to save lives rather than be intimidated by the NRA."
Those two gun control groups point to a study by the Violence Policy Center,
a gun control group, which found that between 1998 and 2001, one out of
every five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty was killed by
an assault weapon.