Columbus Sues Ohio To Defend Local Gun Restrictions

Mar 19, 2019

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein is suing the state over a series of changes to Ohio’s gun laws passed during the waning days of former Gov. Jon Kasich’s administration. In briefs filed Tuesday, Klein argues the new law violates home rule and separation of power provisions in the state constitution.

In May 2018, Columbus leaders approved a package of local firearm measures restricting imitation weapons and accessories like bump stocks, prohibiting sales in residential areas, and taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of people with domestic violence convictions.

Then, in November, state lawmakers approved HB 228, which establishes a state right to bear arms that supersedes any local ordinances and gives people the right to challenge those local laws in court. Kasich initially rejected the bill, but lawmakers overrode his veto.

“House Bill 228 eviscerates the very basic principle of home rule,” Klein said at a press conference Tuesday. “It’s a blatant attempt to crush our authority as local leaders to pass laws that address the needs of our citizens in our community.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther joined Klein to announce the lawsuit.

“The NRA and the Buckeye Firearms Association may run the state government, but they don’t run the city of Columbus,” Ginther said.

In the complaint, Klein argues the state’s preemptions conflict with the city’s authority to create municipal zoning codes, and its restrictions on local laws relating to ownership, transport and the like go beyond the scope of what the state constitution grants the General Assembly.

“I can’t help but think of what has commonly been a Republican principle that you hear often times out of Washington—that states know best, let states control, states know best,” Klein said. “But for some reason, the buck stops with the state.”

The filing argues the court should scrap the law, as well as block it from taking effect while arguments proceed. The law is set to take effect March 28.