The Columbus Dispatch

Conservati­ve think tank files challenge to Columbus’ new gun restrictio­ns

- Bill Bush Columbus Dispatch USA TODAY NETWORK

Conservati­ve Ohio think tank the Buckeye Institute filed a lawsuit Thursday challengin­g new gun restrictio­ns recently enacted by the Columbus City Council — including one making it a misdemeano­r for negligentl­y storing a gun in a way that it could be accessed by children.

The case was filed in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, despite the fact that the vast majority of Columbus residents live in Franklin County, making that jurisdicti­on the third venue to be able to potentiall­y weigh in on the issue.

Cases involving it already have been heard in Franklin County — where a decision allowing the new codes to go into effect was stayed — and Fairfield County, which effectivel­y declined to interfere with the new measures.

The new case is on behalf of five John and Jane Doe plaintiffs, who the institute said should remain unidentifi­ed because they all own high-capacity ammunition magazines of 30 rounds or more, meaning the city could prosecute them. The five reside across the city, but not necessaril­y in Delaware County, said David C. Tryon, director of litigation at the institute and an attorney on the case.

Less than 1% of the city’s more than 900,000 residents live in Delaware County, in the area surroundin­g Polaris

Fashion Place mall, according to Census data.

“The Ohio Constituti­on and the U.S. Constituti­on explicitly protect our right to keep arms for our defense and security, and Ohio’s general assembly has passed laws to prevent just this type of local government infringeme­nt on these rights,” the institute said in a written statement.

“Yet, the city of Columbus insists on infringing on Ohioans’ fundamenta­l right to keep and bear arms to protect ourselves” and has “once again tried to circumvent our clients’ rights, along with the rights of all law-abiding Ohioans.”

In December the City Council passed legislatio­n that:

● Adds to the crimes of negligent homicide and negligent assault “storing or leaving a deadly weapon” in one’s residence in a manner in which a minor could reasonably be anticipate­d to gain access to it. Storing weapons in a safe, gun case or with a trigger lock would be presumed to have exercised due care. Violators face a third-degree misdemeano­r, or — if a juvenile gains access to the weapon — a fourth-degree misdemeano­r. Having a weapon on a person in their home or in their “immediate control” is not a violation.

● Bans “large capacity magazines” that can hold 30 or more rounds or can be converted to accept that many rounds. This misdemeano­r would result in a mandatory 180 consecutiv­e days in jail without work release, and potentiall­y up to one year, and a $1,500 fine.

● Prohibits anyone from recklessly selling, lending, giving or furnishing a firearm to any other person when it is known or when there is reasonable cause to believe they can’t legally possess it. A violator could face a first-degree misdemeano­r.

In January, a Fairfield County judge denied Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s request for a preliminar­y injunction to block the city restrictio­ns. After that ruling, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said the restrictio­ns would go into effect at midnight the next day — even though the first judge in the case had stayed his own ruling that allowed the law to take effect in the first place.

Klein argued that Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen Mcintosh’s stay didn’t mean that the city’s new codes were put on hold pending appeal, even after Mcintosh was asked by Yost to clarify and he responded that Klein’s positions on the stay “are not well taken.”

“What we do know is that the city attorney, Zach Klein, announced that it can be enforced,” leading to the latest attempt to stop that, Tryon said.

Klein’s office on Thursday said it is reviewing the latest lawsuit. It had previously accused Yost of judge-shopping by not filing his case in Franklin County, where the first ruling was decided. @Reporterbu­sh

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