Columbus and several other Ohio cities are considering legislation on guns if state lawmakers don’t pass gun law reforms – despite a state law from that prevents them from passing stricter laws.
Richard Cordray, the former Ohio Attorney General who is now running for governor, defended that law in court, and his Democratic opponents are using that fact to criticize his record on guns.
After the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, Columbus passed its own regulations. Two years later, the Ohio General Assembly passed a law prohibiting cities and other localities from enforcing gun control measures stricter than the state’s laws.
As state Attorney General, Corday defended the law all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ultimately upheld it. Now as a gubernatorial candidate, Cordray seems to imply there is daylight between that law and carefully-drawn local ordinances.
“I think that communities can pass their laws, and the state legislature will pass its laws,” Cordray said. “I will be governor – I will work with the legislature and see what laws they pass and don’t pass. And I think, I do believe in home rule. It’s part of our constitution.”
This week, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus City Council members unveiled a list of gun control proposals that they say “operate in that exception” between state and federal laws. Among those proposals are a ban on gun sales in residential areas, a ban on bump stocks, prohibitions on gun possession by people convicted of domestic violence, and other changes.
“We’re simply following the law, and we believe this is legal and constitutional. And we stand ready in court to defend it,” said City Attorney Zach Klein.
Columbus city leaders wrote an open letter to Gov. John Kasich asking him to restore the rights of cities to enact gun control, following Kasich’s comments calling for “common sense” restrictions on the local level.
“As public servants in Columbus, it is our responsibility to keep our city safe – but elected officials at the statehouse have taken away our ability to enact laws that can reduce gun violence,” the letter reads. “That must change.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidates Dennis Kucinich, Bill O’Neill, Joe Schiavoni and Cordray all appear to support in some form laws to keep guns away from dangerous people. But only Kucinich has said he supports cities that want to ban assault weapons outright.
Cordray’s proposals include appointing a gun violence prevention czar, further background checks, banning bump stocks and targeting “straw man” purchases.