The state of Ohio isn’t exactly the state you’d expect to be considering essentially nullifying all federal gun control laws. After all, their governor was pretty big on pushing his own gun control agenda not that long ago.
More accurately, the laws in question really just keep the local police from enforcing federal gun control laws, which isn’t quite the same as nullification, though the differences in most people’s lives aren’t going to be all that different.
And yet, it seems there’s a bill set to do just that.
Ohio House Republicans want to prevent state and local authorities from helping to enforce any federal laws or rules regarding guns or ammunition via legislation that could pass the chamber before the end of the year.
House Speaker Jason Stephens said this week that he expects House Bill 51 to pass the House in 2023, sending it to the Ohio Senate for further consideration. It aims to have Ohio join at least 17 other states in deeming itself a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State.” The Republican-backed legislation reflects conservatives’ resistance to and distrust of federal gun-control laws, as well as fear that Democrats like President Joe Biden could impose even stricter rules that violate their right to bear arms.
HB51, which cleared an Ohio House Committee earlier this week, would make it illegal for any public official or employee on the state or local level to “enforce, attempt to enforce, or participate in any way in the enforcement of any federal acts, executive orders, administrative orders, rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances regarding firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.”
If a state/local official or employee violates the ban, any person living or “conducting business” in the state could file a lawsuit, and their employer would be required to fire them. Any public entities that “knowingly” continue to employ such violators would face civil penalties of $50,000 per employee.
The bill would still allow local prosecutors to refer firearms cases to a U.S. attorney’s office for potential prosecution, but only for “violent felonies” that are “substantially similar” to weapons-related criminal offenses in Ohio law, and if those weapons violations “are merely ancillary to that prosecution.”
Critics of the law point out that similar laws have already been struck down by the courts, including on recently in Missouri.
There do seem to be differences in this one. The fact that local prosecutors could refer gun cases to the feds, for example, might be enough to keep this one from being struck down, though I’m skeptical of that being the case.
See, I want these laws to be upheld. I’d love it if they were.
The unfortunate truth, though, is that they haven’t been and I don’t know that there’s enough of a difference here between this measure and the ones that came before it to enable this particular bill to survive if it were to become law.
And I can see Ohio passing it and Gov. Mike DeWine actually signing it. DeWine may have pushed for gun control but he’s also signed every pro-gun bill presented to him. I’m not sure that he’d veto a measure like this, especially as so many people in the state have gone very pro-gun over the last few years.
Will they, though? I can’t say for sure, but it should be interesting to watch.