Ohio Cities Head To Court In Fight Over Local Gun Control Laws

Attorneys for several Ohio cities, including Cleveland and Akron, were in court on Monday seeking to block a revision to the state’s firearm preemption law that allows gun owners to sue and seek damages when cities pass local gun control laws in violation of the state’s preemption language.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty said Stephen Funk, representing Akron, Barberton, Cleveland, Cuyahoga Falls, Norton and Tallmadge, and Heather Buchanan of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office are expected to submit written arguments by the end of the day Dec. 16…

Buchanan disagreed with Funk’s assertion that the provision infringes on Ohio’s home-rule law, saying that it clarifies the existing law. Since the cities have been aware of the passage of H.B. 228 for more than a year, she called the request for a preliminary injunction a “manufactured emergency.”

Funk is expected to file a reply brief by the end of the day Thursday, and Buchanan is set to submit a response by the end of the day Dec. 1.

The attorneys for the cities claims that the law will remove their ability to craft local ordinances related to the discharge of firearms, as well as prohibiting them from passing zoning laws regulating the manufacture of firearms, is a weak argument. Ohio’s firearms preemption law has been on the books for several years now, but HB 228, which was signed into law in 2018, added some teeth to the measure by adding the provision that allows for gun owners to sue and seek damages when these cities decide to pass their own local laws in violation of state statutes. It’s that new language that has city leaders stewing from Cincinnati to Cleveland, because it means they may actually face consequences for their actions.

Ironically, as gun control advocates bash the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement for ignoring state-level gun control laws, they’re doing exactly that when it comes to ignoring firearms preemption laws. The city of Cincinnati, for example, passed its own local version of a “red flag” law earlier this year, though city officials were well aware that any enforcement would be in violation of Ohio’s preemption law. Cincinnati isn’t a part of the lawsuit heard in court on Monday, but only because the city has filed a separate lawsuit challenging the state’s preemption language. As the Cincinnati Inquirer reported back in June when the lawsuit was filed:

Cincinnati argues the law violates home rule rights guaranteed in the Ohio Constitution, according to the complaint filed Thursday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

The law is an “effort to silence local elected officials and the municipalities they represent, and it stands in the way of specific legislative steps that the city seeks to take to protect their cities from gun violence,” attorneys wrote in the complaint…

The new Ohio law bars Cincinnati from passing such a law and allows anyone affected by a local gun ordinance to sue the municipality and collect damages, even if the law is rescinded before a court ruling.

Ohio’s local gun law preemption has been upheld in the courts. In February, a Hamilton County judge struck down a Cincinnati law banning “bump stocks,” a firearm accessory that enables guns to fire quicker.

The next round of briefings by the cities and the state in the case heard Monday are due December 16th, and we could see a ruling by the judge shortly thereafter granting or rejecting the cities’ request for an injunction that would prohibit the state law from being enforced while the case is being litigated.





Oct 24, 2021 2:30 PM ET