Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein announced Tuesday the City of Columbus would sue the state of Ohio over new gun law passed late last year.
Through an override of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s veto, the Ohio congress passed HB 228, expanding a citizen’s right to self-defense. The bill was originally intended to be a ‘stand your ground’ law but shifted following the significant public controversy. As passed, the law shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases to the prosecution. Before passage, Ohio was the only state in America in which a defender had to prove that they were acting in self-defense.
Columbus is suing the state on the grounds that the change made in the bill to “Ohio Revised Code Section 9.68, the state’s so-called ‘Right to bear arms – challenge to the law,'” strips the municipality of their sovereign rights to pass local gun ordinances that regulate gun laws within their jurisdiction. In addition, they change that the new law disproportionately favors the gun lobby, diminishing the municipality’s power even further.
In a Press Release, Cleveland Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, in support of Attorney Klein, stated:
We recognize that gun violence is a public health crisis and are committed to implementing all-encompassing strategies that have a positive impact on our residents,…The battle must be legislative, as well. Our efforts to enact common-sense ordinances to reduce gun violence were met with House Bill 228 from the state legislature. It flies in the face of the Ohio Constitution’s Home Rule provision that allows local governments to pass ordinances specific to their residents’ needs, without the threat of intrusion from the state. I stand with City Attorney Zach Klein in suing the State of Ohio to overturn this bill that threatens the safety of our families.
The law, though vetoed by then-Governor John Kasich, passed with wide support from the Ohio Legislature. While Columbus maintains that it has a right to determine its own gun laws, it is unclear if their assertion is superseded by the Second Amendment. An argument will likely be made that the state was affirming that the constitutional rights of Ohioans cannot be stripped by municipalities. However, the release also cites the precedent set by a similar case; City of Columbus, Ohio, et al. v. State of Ohio. The city successfully won “a stay” in the law going into effect, but have not outright won the suit yet.
The full text of the lawsuit can be found here.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to [email protected].