Letter to State Officials on Gun Safety Measures
At last week’s City Council meeting (5.7.18) we discussed a letter drafted by Council Member Myers, to be sent to State Representative Duffey and State Senator Kunze, calling on them to “take meaningful steps to enact responsible, reasonable gun control legislation” at the state level. Internal to the logic of the letter itself is the fact that municipalities are fundamentally constrained in their ability to enact gun-related legislation due to ORC (Ohio Revised Code) 9.68. And this fact is precisely why we were writing our state officials, calling on them to act, since we cannot. The letter further stated, “If the General Assembly is unwilling or unable to advance this simple request then at a minimum we ask that you recognize that not all citizens support an unfettered right to carry any type of weapon in any place at any time and that you support the restoration of each city’s ability to carry out the wishes of their constituents by amending R.C. 9.68 and legislatively overturning Ohioans for Concealed Carry v. Clyde.”
Following extensive public testimony on both sides of the issue, Council voted 6-1 to send the letter.
For the record, my testimony is below:
“When I ran for Council last year I promised myself that on issues of substance I would do my best to explain myself to the residents so they can better hold me accountable and, if they choose, vote me out of office. So that’s what I’ll try to do now—explain my thinking on this significant topic:
The issue tonight, on the surface, is about a letter, about guns, but it is about more than that, it’s about how we see ourselves and one another, both as individuals and as a community, and, even more to the point, it’s about how we choose to decide things amongst ourselves, particularly which rights—and whose rights—do we think matter.
On these fundamental questions—which are as relevant here in Worthington as in Washington, and Columbus in between——on these basic questions, I begin with the belief that the individual is the touchstone of value in our Western tradition, in contrast to statist or totalitarian systems——on both the right and the left—and that it is our nation’s devotion to the dignity, freedom, and rights of the individual that is our glory.
In practical terms, this means that the rights of the individual—for instance, my rights, my freedoms—should be expansive and unfettered, and that our institutions and policies should support this… BUT only up until the point where my rights bump in to, and threaten to diminish, your rights, your freedoms. It is at that point where the rights of one person meet, and maybe conflict with, the rights of others.…it is at that point that vital policy debate occurs in a society governed by laws—such as ours.
As an elected official, I see it as my responsibility to take in to account the many, varied rights of all members in our community—to take in to account these varied rights in both the process of developing policy, and, as far as possible, in the substance of the resulting policy.
In the present case, this means to recognize the rights of those who want to own guns, yes, but it also means to recognize the right to not lose one’s life through a sudden and senseless act of gun violence. To me, this right—the preservation of one’s life, and the related right to live in safety in one’s neighborhood, one’s schools, parks, places of worship, public spaces of all forms—this is an unassailable right, as much as any other right, and our policies should reflect this, AND further, this right to live in relative safety should sanction and empower us to govern ourselves in ways that we see fit toward making this right a reality for all.
The letter at issue tonight calls for these basic rights to be acknowledged and acted upon at the state level, and if that is not possible, then to restore to local govts. their rights—our rights—to determine for ourselves how we wish to address the issue of firearms and the rights of all individuals to live safely within their own communities.
In sum, achieving these goals would support our claim, and our aspirations, to live in a civilized society, one to which I am, however imperfect, most grateful and proud to belong. I refuse to accept the mindset that we can do nothing.
For these reasons, I support the substance, spirit—and the sending—of this letter.