Most citizens do their best to stay on the right side of the law. They know not to speed — too much — to drink responsibly, and to report crimes to law enforcement. But how much do you really know about the law in your community?
Very broadly, there are federal laws, state laws, and local ordinances. City ordinances are found in municipal codes, and are enacted by local governing bodies — in Columbus’ case, by the city council.
But over the years, ordinances can pile up and become outdated or forgotten — Atlanta’s city council, for example, just removed 40 outdated ordinances in March.
How many of these things did you know were technically illegal in Columbus?
1. It is illegal to sell, use, or possess “annoying substances.”
“It shall be unlawful to sell, or keep on hand for sale, or offer for sale, or use, or possess in the city or its police district, any substances or articles commonly known as itch powder, sneeze powder, stink bombs or similar substances or articles.” (Ord. of 11-20-34, § 1)
2. It is illegal for a barber shop to be open on Sunday.
“It shall be unlawful for any barber shop to be kept open or do any business on the Sabbath day.” (Code 1914, § 798)
3. It is illegal to wear a hat in a movie theater.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to wear a hat or any other covering of the head which obstructs the view of other persons, in any theater, opera house, motion picture theater or any other building where an entertainment is given.” (Code 1914, §§ 665, 666)
4. It is illegal to use vulgar language on a telephone.
“It shall be unlawful for any person in the operation of any telephone installed within the city, to make use of any vulgar vituperation or profane language into and over such telephone.” (Code 1914, § 663)
5. It is illegal to use a slingshot.
“It shall be unlawful to shoot gravel, shot or marble, or any other thing out of a gravel shooter, blow gun or marble sling, or other device or implement of like character.”(Code 1914, § 652)
6. It is illegal to tease an “idiotic person.”
“It shall be unlawful and disorderly conduct for any person to tease or harass, either by words, signs or acts, on the streets or public places in the city any simple minded, idiotic, or crazy person, or any cripple, or other unfortunate person.” (Code 1914, § 662)
7. It is illegal to sell flowers without a permit.
“It shall be unlawful to peddle or offer for sale from house to house or place to place in the city or its police district any cut flowers, flower plants or shrubbery unless the person so peddling or offering the same for sale has with him at the time either a regular business license issued by the city or a written permit signed by the chief of police of the city.” (Ord. of 3-28-33, § 1)
However, you are exempted if you are a “country person” not regularly engaged in the flower business. (Ord. of 3-28-33, § 2)
You can find the entire city code of ordinances on the Municode website.
Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE