Ohio State Seal
As with most states, Ohio pre-empts local governments from enacting gun ordinances that are stricter than state law. To allow such laws would make the exercise of Second Amendment rights a legal minefield, as it would be practically impossible to keep up with hundreds of variations in the law that could make a perfectly legal act on one side of the street a serious crime on the other side. Cleveland challenged the preemption law in 2010, claiming that “home rule” prevented the state from restraining the cities’ power. The Ohio supreme court, though, upheld earlier rulings in favor of state authority to protect Second Amendment and state constitutional rights . . .
But many local governments continued to keep laws that infringed on the RKBA on the books, producing a chilling effect on the exercise of those rights. A provision in the preemption statute provided for the recovery of costs and attorney’s fees when cities were sued to provide an incentive for them to follow the state law. Several cities changed their local ordinances as a result. But some cities learned to exercise a loophole in the law in order to discourage further lawsuits.
They refused to change the law, fighting the effort in court until the last minute, wasting city resources and costing those challenging the illegal practices as much money as possible. Then, just before a court ruling was handed down, they would repeal the statute, preventing the plaintiff from recouping any costs or attorney’s fees.
As part of a number of reforms to Ohio gun laws proposed in House Bill 203, that loophole would be closed. Once sued, cities would be subject to a $100 a day fee if they lost the lawsuit or subsequently repealed the ordinance. While $100 a day is only a fraction of the cost of one city worker’s daily pay, it provides some reimbursement of the costs of funding the lawsuit and provides and may discourage cities from delaying repeal as long as possible.
Other reforms included in House Bill 203 include reform of Ohio self defense law to bring it into concurrence with most other states (Stand Your Ground provision), and reforms of the Ohio Concealed Carry permit law. This bears watching.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch