Columbus City Council Members Push For Local Gun Control

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Two city council members in Columbus, Ohio are slated to hold a public hearing next week on a slate of new local gun control ordinances that they’re crafting, but they should probably speak with the city attorney before they present their ideas to the public.

See, in Ohio the state legislature is the body that sets the gun laws all across the state, and local governments like the city council in Columbus are prohibited from trying to enact any ordinances that attempt to regulate the “ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, other transfer, manufacture, taxation, keeping, and reporting of loss or theft of firearms, their components, and their ammunition.”

The language in state statute is pretty clear, but it’s being ignored by the council members in Columbus who say they’re trying to be proactive in addressing violent crime by banning the possession, sale, and transfer of so-called high capacity magazines.

The envisioned measure would also require the safe storage of a firearm in a residence where a minor is present, and prohibit the unlawful sale of a firearm to a person who makes the purchase with the intention of providing the firearm to a person who is ineligible to legally possess a firearm, a so-called “straw sale.”

“This past year, Columbus experienced a record number of firearm-related injuries and deaths,” said Councilman Mitchell Brown, chair of the Public Safety Committee. “It’s time for the City of Columbus to take legislative steps toward reducing the impact of gun-related violence in our neighborhoods.”

Brown will be joined by Councilwoman Shayla Favor at the online public hearing, which will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Straw purchases are already illegal under both state and federal law, so I’m not sure what the councilman thinks would be accomplished by passing a local ordinance banning the practice.

On the other hand, bans on magazines and mandating storage requirements for legal gun owners squarely falls outside the authority of the city council. State law specifically prohibits localities from regulating the storage of firearms, as well as the possession, sale or transfer of firearm components.

Columbus might claim that ammunition magazines aren’t “components” of firearms, but are instead accessories, but I don’t think that’s gonna be a winning argument in court. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that Second Amendment supporters have had to file suit against cities in Ohio that are intent on ignoring the state law that prohibits them from putting their own anti-gun ordinances in place. Back in 2018 the city of Columbus was successfully sued by the Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry over several other local gun control laws, including a ban on bump stocks approved by the city council.

The following year Columbus tried to sue the state of Ohio over the firearms preemption language, arguing that the state statutes violates the home rule powers of cities across the state. Unfortunately for Columbus the state Supreme Court has already upheld the constitutionality of the preemption law in a challenge that was brought by anti-gun politicians in Cleveland.

In other other words, there’s little chance that the proposed local gun control ordinances that will be discussed last week would withstand a court challenge, but that’s not stopping these anti-gun council members from moving forward. Rather than focusing on violent criminals, the city council is once again directing their political firepower at legal gun owners. I hope they get a polite, yet passionate earful from residents next week, and if they insist on trying to implement these new ordinances regardless, I support the Buckeye Firearms Association, Ohioans for Concealed Carry, and any other organization that sues to stop the city’s overreach.

 

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