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City Of Columbus Announces Slate Of Gun Control Proposals

Andrew Ginther

The city of Columbus on Wednesday announced several new pieces of legislation that tighten gun regulations, in defiance of the state's ban on local restrictions. Eleven new ordinances aim to close the gap between state and federal weapons laws and to reduce gun violence.

The new laws, announced by Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Columbus City Council president Shannon Hardin, would increase protections for victims of domestic violence and assault, prohibit firearm sales in residential areas, expand the weapons reporting process, and prohibit the sale of imitation firearms to minors. Here's a rundown of the proposals:

  1. The city will enact a Weapons Under Disability Ordinance that mirrors federal law by prohibiting possession of a weapon is a person was previously convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, currently is the subject of a protection order, or previously was convicted of, or is under indictment for, a felony crime that is considered a disability under federal law but not Ohio law.
  2. The city will ban the possession, brandishing or use of bump stocks and other firearms accessories.
  3. The city will ban the sale of imitation firearms to minors, ban the brandishing or display of imitation firearms in public and prohibit the alteration of an imitation firearms to remove its blaze orange plug.
  4. The city will re-enact weapons codes by creating ordinances to mirror state law.
  5. The city will include protections for intimate partners, including dating partners. If someone commits domestic violence while possessing or carrying a firearm they will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail.
  6. The city will punish violators of Temporary Criminal Protection orders and Civil Orders of Protection with a minimum of six months in jail if they possess or carry firearms during the offense.
  7. The city will mirror state code provisions for storing and returning surrendered firearms. Deadly weapons seized in connection with an arrest for domestic violence or violating a protection order will be retained, unless there is a court order to the contrary.
  8. The city will add properties “upon which a felony offense of violence has occurred to the Columbus City Code definition of a “public nuisance.”
  9. The city will ban commercial gun sales in residential areas.
  10. The city will expand the weapons reporting process. Family, friends and concerned citizens will be allowed to report minors with weapons and have those weapons surrendered.

The legislation comes three weeks after Columbus city officials sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich demanding that the state legislature restore the rights of cities to enact gun control measures.

Since 2006, the Ohio General Assembly has prohibited cities and localities from enforcing gun control measures stricter than the state's laws. But Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein says they still have room to maneuver.

Ohio Revised Code 9.68, which prohibits municipalities from acting in this space, explicitly says "with the exception of state and federal law."

“We’re operating exactly in that exception," Klein says. "We’re looking to state and federal law and filling in the gaps that allows us to enact and pass the ordinances we announced today.”

Ohio Revised Code 9.68 overrode Columbus’ own regulations on assault weapons, which were passed after the federal ban expired in 2004.

“Ohio Revised Code 9.68 encompasses ownership, possession, purchase, acquisition, transport, storage, carry, sale, transfer, their components, guns and ammunition,” Klein said. “It’s like they sat around with a thesaurus and looked at every verb that had to do with owning a gun.”

That law was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2010, after Cleveland sued to pass handgun registration requirements and an assault weapons ban.

“We’re simply following the law, and we believe this is legal and constitutional. And we stand ready in court to defend it,” Klein said.

Hardin says the city will host community discussions surrounding the new legislation within the next month.

The city cited last year’s record-high homicide count as impetus to explore comprehensive changes to gun laws in Columbus. Last year, Columbus saw 143 homicides, 117 of which were shooting deaths.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.