COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The state of Ohio has launched a legal challenge against Columbus City Council’s move to restrict the use and sale of firearms within city limits.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a complaint in Fairfield County Wednesday urging a judge to block the enforcement of City Council’s three-pronged package that limits firearms and their owners. The legislative package flouts Ohio law, Yost argued, because cities are barred from limiting firearms and doing so violates the “fundamental right to bear arms.”
“Despite this, and with great political theater, on December 5, 2022, the Columbus City Council passed several ordinances (“Columbus Firearm Ordinances”) that restrict, impede, and/or ban the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, and storage of firearms, their components, and their ammunition,” Yost wrote.
The three-pronged package, which becomes effective on Thursday, bans Columbus residents from having magazines holding 30 or more rounds, criminalizes the sale or lending of firearms to those prohibited from having a gun, and penalizes those who fail to safely store a firearm.
Council, along with Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, forged ahead with the legislation after a Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Stephen McIntosh temporarily blocked on Nov. 3 part of an Ohio law barring municipalities from adopting their own gun laws.
“Even on the 10th anniversary of the tragic shooting that saw 20 school children and six staff members gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the State continues its assault on any and all measures that would keep our kids and communities safe,” Klein said in a statement.
Yost disagreed with McIntosh’s interpretation. The “clearly unconstitutional and unlawful” Columbus Firearm Ordinances violate Ohioans’ right to bear arms, which includes firearm components like large capacity magazines, he said.
Ohio Revised Code also calls for the uniformity of firearm-related laws, and gun regulations may only be provided by the U.S. Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law or federal law, Yost wrote.
“An immediate temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions are necessary to prevent the City from unconstitutionally turning thousands of law-abiding citizens into instantaneous criminals merely because they exercise their constitutional right to bear arms,” Yost wrote.
Klein, however, said the state remains bound by McIntosh’s decision in Franklin County that found Ohio’s preemption laws as they pertain to gun safety are unconstitutional, giving local governments the ability to adopt their own rules.
“The Attorney General didn’t like the decision out of Franklin County so now he’s judge shopping over in Fairfield County hoping he gets a decision he likes. That’s not how this works,” Klein said. “It’s like a kid getting told no by one parent, but then going to the other to see if they say something else.”
Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, applauded Yost’s move to defend the rights of gun owners in Columbus.
“Buckeye Firearms Association helped bring about preemption in Ohio,” Rieck said in a statement. “We have no intention of allowing Columbus or any other city to ignore it. We will do whatever it takes to fight for the rights of the residents of Columbus and all Ohioans.”
A Fairfield County judge will review the complaint to determine whether to proceed with a temporary restraining order.