Many communities’ lawmakers think the rules don’t really apply to them. They think they can do whatever they want to do and just shrug off any repercussions for doing so.
We’ve all seen them. Maybe you live in one. Maybe you don’t. Regardless, you have a city’s name in your head just the same.
One such city is Cincinnati. They thought they could do something that it turns out they couldn’t. As a result, the taxpayers of that city had to fork over a nice chunk of change to a gun-rights group after the city decided to pass a bump stock ban.
On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court handed Buckeye Firearms Foundation a complete and final victory in our challenge to their unconstitutional law.
“This is a massive victory,” Rieck said at the time. “Cincinnati thumbed its nose at Ohio citizens and enacted a law to regulate gun components, which state law expressly forbids them from doing.
“They knew the ordinance was illegal and decided to spend taxpayer dollars to do it anyway. Now the Supreme Court has spoken and Cincinnati voters should ask Council Members why they wasted so much time and money on this foolish and illegal pursuit.”
What wasn’t revealed at that time was how much money the Council had wasted. But the Cincinnati Enquirer is now reporting that in addition to the no-doubt hundreds of thousands of dollars they paid their own legal counsel, the City has also been forced to reimburse Buckeye Firearms Foundation nearly a quarter of a million dollars for its legal expenses:
In 2018, then-Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld led efforts to get City Council to ban bump stocks within the city limits.
Council’s two Republican members, among others, argued it would be unconstitutional to ban the rapid-fire devices that can be added to guns.
They were right. Not only was the ban stuck down, but now the City of Cincinnati has agreed to pay the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which sued the city over the ban, $235,218, to cover the group’s legal fees.
City Solicitor Andrew Garth detailed the payment in an Oct. 4 memo posted on the city’s website.
The Cincinnati ban passed 7-2 with Republicans Amy Murray and Jeff Pastor opposing it.
Pastor…told his colleagues they “just voted to get the city sued while facing a $30 million deficit.”
“Preemption is important,” Rieck says, “because Ohio used to have a confusing patchwork of gun laws. Merely crossing a city border could turn an otherwise law-abiding citizen into a criminal.”
That kind of thing should hurt a city.
Unfortunately, though, the people who made the decision aren’t actually going to face any repercussions for it. It wasn’t their money, after all, and while the city has a budget shortfall already, they’re not going to blink about either the costs for defending against the suit or paying legal fees to the Buckeye Firearms Foundation.
But they should.
The taxpayers in Cincinnati should be furious. They should be ready to run people out of town on rails. Literal rails, complete with tar and feathers. A $30 million deficit and the city council thought getting sued for blatantly ignoring Ohio’s preemption law was a winning strategy?
Unfortunately, I suspect most taxpayers are just shrugging it off. They don’t actually see deficits. They may understand it exists, but it’s not personal. It doesn’t impact them.
What would probably be helpful is to show just how many police officers are going to be put out of work because of this hamfisted attempt at gun control. It would be helpful to show how this stunt impacted garbage collection or hurt the library system or any of a thousand other things that people actually use.
Too bad the media in Cincinnati is unlikely to do any such thing.