Judge's order shoots down city's attempt to enforce local gun control

Judge's order shoots down city's attempt to enforce local gun control
Rich Pedroncelli

City leaders in Columbus, Ohio have suffered a huge setback in their attempt to enforce several new local gun control ordinances that were rushed into existence last month. Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh issued an order back in early November that allowed a city ordinance barring gun makers from setting up shops in areas zoned for residential use to be enforced while it’s being challenged in court, but Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and other city officials interpreted McIntosh’s ruling as a complete rejection of the state’s firearm preemption law and the green light to put even far more restrictive ordinances in place.

While McIntosh stayed his decision a week later pending appeal, the city council and mayor swiftly moved to enact several additional restrictions regardless, including a ban on ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 30 rounds and a storage mandate for gun owners and their firearms that were scheduled to take effect today. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Second Amendment organizations like the Buckeye Firearms Association vowed to challenge those new ordinances, and on Wednesday Yost did exactly that; filing for a temporary restraining order that would block enforcement of the city’s recent infringements.

In his filing, Yost argues that the Ohio Supreme Court has already twice upheld the state’s firearm preemption statute, which forbids local governments and other political subdivisions from imposing their own local gun control regulations, and that allowing the city’s new magazine ban and storage requirements to be enforced would turn “thousands of law-abiding citizens into instantaneous criminals merely because they exercised their right to keep and bear arms.”

While Yost was filing that request for a TRO, however, Judge McIntosh was filing an order of his own; one that directly contradicts the assertions of Columbus officials and its city attorney.

In his order, McIntosh wrote that Columbus’ argument that they were free to pass and enforce new gun control provisions thanks to his injunction doesn’t hold up to legal scrutiny.

Upon review and for good cause show, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s arguments are not well taken. The Ohio Supreme Court has unambiguously held that government agencies, i.e. the State, is entitled to a stay as a matter of right without posting bond pursuant to Civ. R. 62(C) and a trial court has no discretion to deny the stay. This holding applies to granted preliminary injunction decisions on appeal. Further, the trial court has the authority and is not without jurisdiction to clarify its original order when such clarification is sought by the parties, required to explain the original order, procedural in nature, and chiefly will not interfere with the appeal.

Accordingly, the Court hereby ORDERS the following clarification of its Stay Order:

The Court hereby STAYS all proceedings in the matter pending a final decision issued by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Further, the Court hereby STAYS the granted preliminary injunction against R.C.9.68. both in its original form and amended forms and Am. Sub. H.B. 228 pending a final decision granted by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The net result? Columbus’ new magazine ban and storage requirements will not be taking effect today as city leaders intended, and will likely never be enforced thanks to the state’s firearm preemption law. McIntosh’s latest order isn’t the final word on the city’s attempt to do an end-run around state law, but based on existing precedent in the state I don’t think either the appellate court or the state Supreme Court are going to look too kindly on Columbus’ local gun control schemes.