Ohio has a preemption law that prohibits cities from enacting more stringent gun controls than anything that exists at the state level. That’s there to prevent creation of a patchwork of laws from being enacted forcing law-abiding gun owners to know the laws in every city in the state they may enter.
Without preemption, gun owners in, say, Toledo, would have to know that the laws concerning concealed carry in Cincinnati are different. It would be all too easy to run afoul of them and find yourself behind bars.
But since Parkland, many cities in preemption states have decided to challenge these preemption laws. One way is to lobby for repeal in the state legislature and change the law. Cities in Florida are challenging the Sunshine State’s preemption law in court.
In Ohio, as in Illinois, gun rights groups (Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry) did just that. They’ve sued Columbus and Cincinnati over their newly-enacted bump stock bans. And yesterday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of Columbus’s illegal ordinance.
Court of Common Pleas Judge David Cain issued a temporary restraining order on Friday against two city ordinances passed in May: one that banned the possession or use of bump stocks, and another that banned people from carrying a gun while under protection orders or convicted of domestic violence.
Are measures like a bump stock ban and prohibiting people under orders of protection things that Columbusites want? Maybe. But if so, there’s a way to accomplish that under existing law.
They can lobby their state representatives to draft a bill and bring it up for a vote in the Ohio legislature. Instead, the Columbus city council chose to ignore the legislative route — and state law — and enact their own restrictions.
“These lawsuits are not about the bump stock per se, it’s about the rule of law in Ohio,” said Dean Rieke, executive director of Buckeye Firearms, on Friday. “Because it’s our belief that they’re passing these laws as a test to see what they can get away with.”
Bingo. Cities like Deerfield, Cincinnati and Columbus are playing legal chicken. They’re enacting gun control laws and daring someone to step up and challenge them. So far, suits from groups like Guns Save Life, the NRA in Illinois, and the Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry have stopped enforcement of these clearly illegal gun control laws.
Like Deerfield, Columbus tried to argue their law doesn’t violate the state preemption statute because it doesn’t actually regulate guns, only accessories.
Columubus Attorney Zach Klein says the city is only filling in the gap between state and federal regulations. Klein is expected to move to dismiss the case this week.
That kind of Clintonian parsing of the law didn’t work in Deerfield and it didn’t sway Judge Cain in Ohio, either.
Just as in Deerfield, though, this isn’t over. The Columbus TRO lasts until the date of the next hearing which is set for July 9. Watch this space.