Columbus City Council members Shayla Favor, Emmanuel Remy, and Council President Shannon Hardin hosted a public hearing Tuesday to discuss the proposed “common-sense” gun reform legislation to reduce gun violence.
Democratic leaders Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein, and Assistant Police Chief Greg Bodker also participated in the hearing which came after Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Steven McIntosh sided with the city of Columbus in a ruling that deals in part with Ohio’s “preemption” laws, which forbid cities and other political subdivisions from regulating firearms.
“I can’t predict the court and how long this will last. But what I can say is that we are here and we have the opportunity. And this opportunity is golden,” Klein said.
The city attorney’s office laid out the three components of the legislation. Defining large capacity magazines, defining safe storage of a firearm, and forbidding “straw man” sales of guns to those who may not legally possess them.
The proposed legislation will prohibit the possession of a large capacity magazine by anyone other than a federal or state agent or armed services member or a member of state or local law enforcement.
A “large capacity magazine” is defined in the measure as any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, clip or other similar device that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, thirty (30) or more rounds of ammunition for use in a firearm.
The legislation will penalize those who fail to exercise due care in storing their firearms when they know or reasonably should know that a minor is able to gain access to them.
The proposal prohibits the reckless selling, lending, giving, or furnishing of a firearm to a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. It also criminalizes an individual who purchases or attempts to purchase a firearm and intends to sell it to a person prohibited from possessing a firearm.
The hearing also allowed for Columbus residents to speak in favor or opposition to the legislation.
“Living in panic of ourselves or our loved ones being shot at any moment impedes on our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Grace Schultz a senior at Ohio State University said.
“This is a public health crisis and the state should look at it as so. I urge you to pass every single ordinance that you can now and ask questions later,” Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Ohio Chapter Lead Erick Bellomy Jr. said.
This is not about eliminating the right to bear arms. Every constitutional right comes with responsibilities, Mayor Ginther said.
But gun rights advocates, such as the Buckeye Firearms Association, noted in written testimony that proposals were overreaching, redundant, and unnecessary.
“Buckeye Firearms Association opposes attempts by the City of Columbus to regulate firearms because it is unlawful. Ohio Revised Code 9.68 explicitly prohibits cities from enacting ordinances that regulate firearms, their components, and their ammunition. Further, the same section of law allows a citizen impacted by such an unlawful ordinance to bring a civil action against an offending city. The proposed ordinance seeks to ban firearm magazines with a capacity of 30 or more rounds. This clearly is in conflict with ORC 9.68. BFA is aware of pending litigation relevant to this section of Ohio law.”
Buckeye Firearms Association also expressed outrage that Columbus City Council members only gave notice of the meeting approximately 24 hours prior.
“This is outrageous because they obviously don’t want to give opponents enough time to comment on their plans. And it’s doubly outrageous since a court recently issued a “stay” in their lawsuit against Ohio regarding the preemption law, which should mean they put all such plans on hold. This is a serious problem for Columbus residents because it appears the city is not willing to abide by state law, and it appears they are not willing to abide by the orders of the court,” Buckeye Firearms Association said in a statement.
The legislative package is proposed as emergency second reading for a council vote on December 5 or 12.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]