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Ohio law banning local gun control ordinances has been put on hold by a court

Columbus City Atty Zach Klein at Ohio Statehouse on September 29, 2022
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Columbus City Atty Zach Klein at Ohio Statehouse on September 29, 2022

A Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge has issued a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of a state law that bans local governments from passing their own gun-control measures.

In his order, Judge Stephen McIntosh froze the law which the City of Columbus argued violates its constitutional right to home-rule authority when it comes to gun laws.

McIntosh said Columbus has a “likelihood of success on the merits” of its argument against a 2018 state law that allows residents or organizations to sue cities that have gun ordinances that are stricter than those of the state.

“The chilling effect of this language would act as a deterrence to municipalities promulgating legislation under their home rule authority,” McIntosh wrote in the ruling.

Attorneys with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office have argued the city of Columbus failed to show how it has been damaged by the law being challenged. Yost's office also said Ohio cities do not have the constitutional authority to regulate firearms in a way that conflicts with state law.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said the constitution gives cities the authority to be able to make their own gun ordinances. He said Columbus leaders and residents want gun reforms to make their city safer.

"We want to have the ability to regulate ourselves, to do what is best for our citizens," Klein said.

Klein said it's the first of many steps but added the ruling is a victory for home rule.

“When you look at the history of home rule and the ability of cities to regulate this stuff themselves, home rule, the Ohio Supreme Court has treated very favorably to cities. That has changed and a lot of it is personality driven by the judges,” Klein said.

Klein said the city is now talking to residents about what should be done to make Columbus safer. Having home rule, he said, would allow more options for keeping communities safe.

"That ranges everything from requiring lock boxes and safe storage to keep guns out of the hands of children. It also allows us to consider requiring motorists in the city of Columbus to inform police officers that he or she has a gun in their car so there's a police officer safety measure to this. Because of this ruling, we are now able to have those conversations and figure out what we can do from a common-sense gun safety standpoint in the city of Columbus," Klein said.

Klein said it's not just guns that could be affected by the ruling in this case.

In recent years, state lawmakers have passed legislation to keep cities from enacting a range of ordinances such as reducing plastic bag usage to preventing pet stores from selling puppies from puppy mills.

Klein said he knows this ruling is temporary and even if his side prevails, the issue will probably end up before the Ohio Supreme Court. Three of the seven seats on the court are on the ballot for Election Day.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.