The Bruen decision found, among other things, that various governments could ban guns in certain sensitive places, in part because that was something done at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification.
One of those places is courthouses. Yet what about places where court is held but so are other activities?
Ohio has that problem and in a new bill, they’re trying to address it.
The problem is, the way the bill is written, some figure it opens the door for a whole lot more.
This all stems from the Lebanon City Council, which passed an ordinance allowing residents to carry guns into the city building, Mathews explained. Some residents filed a lawsuit against this, but as of spring 2023, a judge sided in favor of the city.
“In many of our smaller communities, good stewardship of taxpayer dollars often means a single multi-purpose city or village hall,” Mathews said in testimony for the bill. “This city hall may house the tax department, electric department, council chambers, and a room that is sometimes a courtroom.”
Once a city votes to approve that, anyone with a concealed carry permit could bring a firearm into that building, as long as court isn’t in session. It was originally designed to allow multi-purpose centers that have court a few times a week to allow guns — as long as it isn’t designated as solely a courthouse.
However, WEWS/OCJ identified a possible loophole in the bill that could allow individuals to carry firearms into actual courthouses — not just buildings that hold court.
Not only would this allow some people, most likely in rural areas that have smaller government, to bring guns to city council sessions — but it could have a greater impact on court cases, according to Lou Tobin with the Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
“Yes, you can carry concealed weapons into this building,” he said about the legislation.
Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau asked Tobin and numerous nonpartisan legal experts if it was possible to bring guns into a courthouse as long as it has other purposes, like if city executives have offices there or if marriages are performed in the building. They all agreed that it would be feasible.
Of course, this is framed as a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad thing that simply shouldn’t be allowed. It’s done by initially claiming it could be bad for domestic violence survivors because bad people could lawfully bring a gun in before court is in session for the day.
They ignore the fact that the victim could carry a gun as well–that always seems to get missed in the wash, doesn’t it?
Anyway, there’s a lot of doom and gloom about this bill and how this bug is potentially an awful thing.
Yet I don’t think so. I think this should be framed as a feature rather than a bug.
Look, the idea of gun-free zones is a problem from the start. Even if you keep guns out of the courthouse, you can’t keep them off the streets outside. If someone wants to hurt another, the literal best you can do with a courthouse is make them wait until someone is leaving.
How is that an improvement?
The Ohio bill, even if unintentionally, apparently would allow people to carry in more courthouses and would allow them to protect themselves to and from the court.
It’s not perfect, mind you, because it only applies to courthouses where other business is conducted, but that seems to be the norm in most places I’ve been, so the exceptions would be drastically outweighed by those to whom the rule would apply.
I don’t see it as a bad thing in the least and would be a great move for Ohio.
Many, unfortunately, will. And since this is just a bill versus a law, either the bill will die or it will likely be amended to account for the supposed loophole. That’s how it would go pretty much everywhere, too, and not just in Ohio.