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Appeals court lifts injunction on statewide law requiring uniformity in gun laws across Ohio

guns on display in a gun store
Seth Perlman
Associated Press

The legal battle over Columbus' local gun laws is ongoing in both Delaware County and Franklin County courts.

A federal appeals court overturned a Franklin County judge's injunction halting enforcement of a statewide law requiring uniformity across jurisdictions for gun laws.

The complex decision removed the preliminary injunction — freeing up the state to enforce its law — but redirected the case back to the Franklin County judge on whether or not the law is valid. The city of Columbus sued the state over this law back in 2019 and faces another lawsuit over its local gun laws in Delaware County.

The decision doesn't impact the current state of the city's attempts to enforce gun laws, but in the short term, it does mean the wider state won't be able to create or enforce legislation while the case's final decision is pending.

A similar case in Delaware County is currently preventing Columbus from enforcing its own laws banning gun magazines with 30 or more rounds and requiring residents to safely store guns.

The Delaware County judge in April blocked the city from implementing these restrictions.

The three-judge appeals panel included two Democrats and one Republican. The Franklin County judge is Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh, a Democrat.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost both reacted to the ruling, spinning the complex outcome in their favor in emailed statements.

Klein said the ruling didn't rule on the actual merits of the case and now the city will continue to fight the state law in court. He said the court ruled that the evidence relied upon by the trial judge was too old and couldn’t be used as a basis for its injunction.

Columbus filed the case in 2019, the court held a hearing in May of 2019 and the court issued its decision in November 2022.

The appeals court took issue with that timeframe and sent the case back to the trial court so that the city could introduce fresh evidence.

"We respect the Court’s decision and look forward to continuing to make our case on behalf of the residents of Columbus who want nothing more than to have less gun violence and safer neighborhoods," Klein said.

Yost framed the decision as a win for the state and cited the appeals court ruling calling Columbus' arguments in favor of the injunction "inartful" and the city failing to prove irreparable injury or harm to others or public interest.

"The court’s ruling assures that all Ohioans must abide by the same law, state law, when it comes to firearms," Yost said. “Just like we argued in court, firearms owners statewide should have to follow the same rules. We applaud the decision.”

The case now heads back to Franklin County as the other Delaware County case is still pending.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.