CLEVELAND (AP) _ Lawyers for Mariners reliever Jose Mesa asked a judge Wednesday to dismiss a weapons charge, arguing Ohio law unfairly prevents people from carrying a concealed weapon for defensive purposes.

In 1996, police stopped Mesa's car and found a gun in an unlocked compartment. Mesa, then with the Cleveland Indians, was stopped because he was wanted on sex abuse charges.

A jury later acquitted Mesa of rape, gross sexual imposition and theft charges. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Curran dismissed a charge of carrying a concealed weapon, ruling that police didn't have a right to search Mesa's car.

But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled last year that police could search the unlocked compartment. A trial on the concealed-weapon charge is scheduled to start next month. If convicted, Mesa could be sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison and be deported to the Dominican Republic.

Mesa's attorney, Gerald Messerman, argued Wednesday that his client had a right to carry a weapon to protect himself from Cleveland Indians fans who were upset about his pitching. He asked Curran to rule the state's concealed-weapon law unconstitutional, saying it should have provisions allowing some people to carry a weapon for defensive purposes.

The state's attorney, Michael Nolan, told the judge that the ``solution for this is legislative and not judicial.''

During the 21/2-hour hearing, city police officer Eddie Rimmer testified he sold a handgun to Mesa and saw Indians fans curse and threaten the player.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday.