State Of Ohio And Cincinnati Battle Over Gun Control

The State of Ohio is embroiled in an interesting and high-stakes legal battle involving the challenge of balancing conflicting gun control laws and constitutional rights, as Cincinnati has enacted new gun regulations that are more stringent than state law.

Cincinnati began the litigation against the state government earlier this year. The city seeks judicial approval to enforce a “safe storage ordinance” that compels gun owners to lock up their firearms. The state had previously given notice to the city government that it would be permitted to enforce the criminal provisions of the ordinance in state courts.

Cincinnati later enacted a second ordinance that prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence from owning guns in a manner that exceeds the restrictions provided for in state law.

David C. Tryon, director of litigation at the Buckeye Institute, said of the dispute: “While violent crime is certainly a problem that cities must address, it is irrelevant to whether Ohio’s preemption law is constitutional.”

Ohio has now appealed the full set of municipal gun laws to the state’s First District Court of Appeals. The state primarily argues that Ohio state statutes supersede city ordinances and stresses the importance of uniformity in gun laws across the state.

In 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the state’s preemption law regarding local gun regulations in the City of Cleveland v. Ohio. In that case, the court affirmed the legal principle that cities cannot establish gun laws stricter than those at the state level. The ruling found that the state’s preemption statute does not unconstitutionally infringe on “municipal home rule” authority.

That case was significant in establishing a uniform standard for gun laws statewide, replacing the patchwork of local regulations that led to inconsistent legal obligations and great uncertainty for state residents. Legal analysts believe the Cleveland case will prove to be an insurmountable hurdle for Cincinnati in the current dispute.

Even as the battle over Cincinnati’s local rules moves through the courts, Democrats in the Ohio state Senate have introduced four new bills involving gun rights. Among other issues, the new proposed state legislation addresses the removal of guns for domestic violence convictions and mandatory firearm storage rules.