Buckeye Firearms Association responds to suit allegedly scuttling Ohio preemption

Mark Humphrey

Ohio has and continues to have solid support for the Second Amendment. Looking at the Buckeye State, Ohio really does have some of the better gun laws. Ohio has gone permitless carry and Ohio came fairly close last legislative session to becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary state. The other day Cam reported on a lawsuit that targeted Ohio’s preemption law. The injunction seems to have delivered a blow to Ohioans’ protections when it comes to the Second Amendment, but there might be a little more to this story.

The cities of Columbus and Cincinnati sued the state over another provision in HB 228 that strengthened Ohio’s firearm preemption laws and allowed for financial damages to be awarded to plaintiffs who sued municipalities over local gun control ordinances that were in place in violation of state law, arguing that the provision intruded on home rule powers and “stands in the way of specific legislative steps that the city seeks to take to protect their cities from gun violence.”

As part of the initial lawsuit, the cities requested a temporary injunction that would halt enforcement of HB 228, but for the next three years Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen. L. McIntosh never issued a ruling on that request. A couple of weeks ago Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein filed another lawsuit, this one against the judge, asking the state Supreme Court to compel McIntosh to make a decision. The state’s highest court hasn’t yet weighed in, but Klein announced today that he’s dropping the lawsuit because McIntosh has finally released his opinion.. and ruled in favor of the cities.

Sifting through the details of the matter at hand, Cam observed that while he himself is not an attorney (nor am I), he’s baffled by the ruling because, “The state firearms preemption statute is unambiguous in laying out the no-go areas for cities when it comes to gun legislation. If a city like Columbus can violate state law without suffering any sort of consequences, then that effectively ends firearm preemption; a statute that the state Supreme Court has already decided comports with the home rule authority in the state constitution.”

Our friends at the Buckeye Firearms Association recently weighed in on the opinion, telling people to not get too excited about what was ruled on. Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, stated that “City Attorney Zach Klein is being irresponsible, when he says otherwise,” concerning what’s actually been ruled on. Rieck continued, “He was recently quoted in a news story, saying ‘An assault weapon ban is something that the city of Columbus can now consider and I would support that.’ But this ruling does not simply wipe away preemption and he knows that.”

The remarks that Rieck referred to were noted in a 10WBNS CBS report.

“An assault weapon ban is something that the city of Columbus can now consider and I would support that,” said Klein.

Klein said things like mandating gun safety locks would also be considered. He said whatever is decided will be a decision that will include the mayor, city council, and the police chief.

“Starting with something as simple as a lock box we couldn’t even prior to this legislation even have this conversation that’s how devoid of common sense these laws out of that statehouse are,” he said.

Rieck’s assertion that the city Attorney is being inauthentic is echoed in the opinion that Klein celebrated. From the Law and Analysis section of the opinion, we have the following:

In its Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the City argues that Am. Sub. H.B. 228 and R.C. 9.68 are unconstitutional because they infringe on the City’s right to exercise its zoning powers, under C.C.C. 3332.02, to prohibit a firearms manufacturing plant from locating in a residential neighborhood. The City asserts that the General Assembly has expressly prohibited the City from passing any zoning regulations related to firearms, including where a firearms manufacturer might locate.

The opinion further states, as pointed out by the Buckeye Firearms Association, that this is a matter of zoning, and nothing much else.

The Court agrees that R.C. 9.68 unconstitutionally infringes upon the Plaintiff’s right to exercise its zoning powers. Paragraph (D) specifically permits municipalities to regulate the sale (emphasis added) of firearms, firearm components or ammunition for firearms in areas zoned for residential or agricultural uses. It does not specifically grant municipalities zoning to limit gun manufacturing in areas zoned residential and agricultural.

City Attorney Zach Klein can run his mouth all he wants about all the glorious ordinances he wishes to see come to fruition, but it’s going to be difficult to do so under the scaffolding set forth by the judge’s order. Can the City justify a storage mandate on firearms predicated on the basis of a zoning power surrounding the SALE of firearms etc? Nevermind can the City justify such an ordinance under NYSRPA v. Buren? I doubt they’ll be able to do such a thing. Rieck and the Buckeye Firearms Association are more than aware of this fact.

“The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled specifically that Ohio’s preemption statute is valid law and a lower court judge cannot simply sweep that away. There may be a case concerning the narrow issue of whether cities can zone to prevent firearm manufacturers from locating in residential neighborhoods, but that is all.”

Buckeye Firearms Association urges Columbus to stop playing politics with settled law and stop misleading the public about their authority on gun regulation.

Columbus and other cities must continue to abide by state law.

“Any city that attempts to ignore Ohio’s preemption law will be challenged in court,” warned Rieck. “We will not sit by idly and watch Ohio devolve into a patchwork of conflicting gun laws as we had two decades ago.

“Columbus reported on a study of violent crime not long ago showing that authorities know where the violence is coming from. City leaders should focus their energies on the actual perpetrators of violent crime and not continue to harass law-abiding gun owners who are not responsible for that crime.”

The real conflict going forward is going to be what kind of damage can or will the leadership of the big cities of Ohio inflict upon the citizens they’ve sworn to serve. Looking at this opinion through the lens that the cities “rights” were usurped concerning zoning regulations and the sale of firearms, and in no other manner, they’re going to have to get really creative to meet the goals outlined by Klein. We’ll be watching the Buckeye State and what transpires concerning this suit, and others that may follow. Any cavalier behavior will not go unnoticed or unreported.