A Man Needs a Gun 

What’s a punch between casual acquaintances?

Last year, Eugene Eibler tried to buy a firearm from a Parma Heights gun shop. The purchase was denied and a $315 deposit confiscated after a background check revealed a criminal conviction. A few weeks later, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms informed Eibler that he would have to forfeit two 12-gauge shotguns he purchased earlier.

In 1998, Eibler was indicted on charges of kidnapping and felonious assault. He was accused of pulling a woman into his Slavic Village bar and striking her in the face. He eventually pleaded to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to 30 days.

Today, Eibler refuses to let his past keep him from bearing arms.

Under federal law, felons and those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence are barred from possessing handguns. But Eibler's attorney, Margaret Kanellis, argues that he falls into neither category. In other words, she contends, if you're not related to or particularly intimate with the woman you punch, you get a pass. "It either is a domestic violence case or it isn't, and in Mr. Eibler's case, it isn't," she says. And she may have a case.

The verdict could hinge on Eibler's relationship with the woman he allegedly struck. A local ATF official referred Punch to definitions of domestic violence, which include assault committed by a spouse, parent, guardian, current or former cohabitant, someone with whom the victim shares a child, or "a person similarly situated."

Eibler says the woman in question is a tenant in an apartment above his Bottoms Up Café. In his retelling of the incident, he plays the role of Stand-Up Guy, contending he followed the woman merely because she left the bar on a January night without her coat. "I didn't drag her in," he says. "I walked her in." Which, of course, doesn't explain why he pleaded guilty to assault.

We're not mean
Placing poorly on quality-of-life indices has become a daily occurrence for our fair city. That's why the most recent list to hit Punch's fax provides for a serious burst of civic pride.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has released its list of America's "20 Meanest Cities." And -- drumroll, please -- Cleveland isn't on it.

The winners, slammed for laws that make it difficult for the poor and homeless to survive, are all cities that usually pound us on quality-of-life lists: Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Better yet, Cincinnati placed sixth, proving once again that no matter how bad things get here, they're always worse downstate.

Fortunately, the list came out before a couple of morons from Youngstown used a stun gun on sleeping bums.

Dennis goes to Hollywood
Dennis Kucinich backers liken their man to Seabiscuit, the scrawny thoroughbred that buoyed Depression-era America. But exactly how is this would-be president positioning himself as the dark horse who represents the dreams of the nation's prairie dwellers?

By hanging with Hollywood celebs, of course.

During a recent West Coast swing, Kucinich noshed at a party hosted by the husband-wife acting team of James Cromwell and Julie Cobb, according to the Los Angeles Times. Other B-listers on hand were Hector Elizondo and Elliott Gould, along with such you're-still-alive? luminaries as Michael Gross and Morgan Fairchild.

It being L.A., the stars took turns describing how fab Kucinich is. Fellow vegan Cromwell, star of Babe and L.A. Confidential, extolled Dennis's aversion to meat, while Elizondo, he of Chicago Hope fame, praised the former Boy Mayor's blue-collarness. No word on whether Fairchild lauded his hair care.

But the wisest commentary came from Gross, who still seems haunted by playing the father of a Nixon-loving son on Family Ties. He warned that Kucinich needs "to stop using the word 'holistic.' We don't want people to think he's Jerry Brown."

The good son
Yes, that was Scene writer Jimi Izrael you saw last week on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, the cable shoutfest where liberals and conservatives chew off each other's balls for the pleasure of the viewing audience.

Topic: the bleating of Niger Innis, spokesman for the Congress on Racial Equality, who whines that President Bush hasn't given any attention to conservative black groups. He notes that while Jesse Jackson got a 15-minute meeting with the president, black conservatives like him can't even get a phone call returned, much less a meeting.

Izrael pointed out that Innis has no brand name -- or grassroots cachet -- to rate a tee time with President Skippy. "And besides," said Izrael, who, as a true son of Cleveland, never hesitates to punch below the belt, "Jesse Jackson is about as politically relevant as Michael Jackson -- and about as black."

A fool and his religion
Catherine Donkers and Brad Lee Barnhill seemed to have a nice populist cause on their hands after Donkers was nabbed by Portage County for breastfeeding while driving. Here was a noble mother of the Heartland, whose only crime was the possession of superior multitasking skills.

Then the couple decided to speak.

They refused to recognize the state's authority, which Barnhill refers to as "the legal fiction known as the state of Ohio." The couple also claimed that their religion -- the First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty-- dictates that only a husband may punish his wife. "That's the way I have to do things under my faith," Barnhill, a minister, told the Beacon Journal. "And if I fail in that duty, I'm going to hell."

Unfortunately, Barnhill may already be screwed on the last count, since St. Peter doesn't take lightly the ecclesiastical crime of being a sucker. According to Las Vegas Weekly, the First Christian Fellowship for Eternal Sovereignty was founded by staunchly anti-fed activist Christopher Hansen "in order to get his son, Josh, out of PE class and into physics by using a religious exemption."

Move over, IKEA
IKEA has yet to arrive in Cleveland, but the next best thing in fine houseware can be found at www.opi.state.oh.us. It's Ohio Penal Industries' online store, where a 7-foot walnut bookshelf goes for $299. It also offers the hippest in bulk-purchase fashions: A dozen pairs of brown men's shoes go for just $235, and a dozen twill jumpsuits are available in a variety of colors (including orange) for $327.

Though some of the money goes to inmates, most goes to court costs, victim restitution, and child support.

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