Taft Veto Overridden
Ohio Cities Likely to Challenge Pre-Emption
by Dave Workman
Having firmly established himself as an enemy of gunowners in the Buckeye State, outgoing anti-gun Republican Gov. Bob Taft took one more swipe at guns and it cost him dearly.
Taft became the first governor in a generation to have a veto overridden, largely by members of his own Republican party. Taft’s veto of concealed carry reform legislation that also established state preemption over all gun laws was almost immediately overridden by the state House of Representatives in a 71-21 vote, and five days later, the Senate voted 21-12 to nullify the lame-duck governor’s veto.
In the process, the legislature erased dozens of local gun laws, many passed since Ohio adopted concealed carry about three years ago. That may become the basis for a legal challenge of the bill, as it appears to collide with a recent state Supreme Court ruling that, under the state constitution’s “Home Rule” provision, it is legal for local municipalities to adopt such ordinances.
In all, about 80 local gun laws were nullified by passage of HB-347. Associated Press reported that Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson plans to challenge the law in court. It would be an ironic situation, because one of three pro-gun Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for the override is state Sen. Marc Dann, who was elected as Ohio’s new Attorney General. The other two Democrats were Senators Kimberly Zurz and Charles Wilson.
After the vote, Dann told reporters that “Having contradictory gun laws all over the state doesn’t make sense.”
Other cities, particularly Columbus which sees its “assault weapons” ban again facing reversal, also are discussing a court challenge on “Home Rule” grounds. Many of the city officials and the public are being lobbied to have HR-347 ruled unconstitutional by almost daily newspaper editorials and com mentaries.
For Taft, who had historically found any roadblock he could muster to oppose and then delay concealed carry, it was a humiliating defeat, but a hard-fought victory for Ohio gun rights organizations, the National Rifle Association and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA). Ohio now joins 43 other states with preemption statutes.
“Ohioans, including apprehensive newspaper editorial writers, will soon realize what residents in other states have learned,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “State preemption that prevents patchwork adoption of local gun laws is not only reasonable; it is the responsible thing to do. Now all Ohio residents will know that whether they travel from Akron to Ashland, Cincinnati to Cleveland or anywhere in between, firearms laws will be the same, and they won’t risk running afoul of some local regulation.”
Under the reform measure, which will become law in about 2˚ months unless stayed by some temporary court ruling, cities and towns cannot pass their own gun control ordinances, which they had been doing in what some considered a deliberate attempt to confuse armed Ohio citizens.
All state gun laws now become uniform, according to CCRKBA, and there are other benefits as well. HB_347 also does away with a requirement, considered by some to be outright unsafe, that citizens licensed to carry concealed have had to keep their guns in the open, or locked in a box or glove compartment, while driving in a vehicle.
Sharing in the victory were the Ohioans for Concealed Carry, People’s Rights Organization and Buckeye Firearms Association, all grassroots organizations that had fought hard to pass the bill, and even harder after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled, just days before the veto, that municipalities could adopt their own gun laws, such as the ban on so-called assault weapons in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Dayton, under the state constitution’s “Home Rule” provision.
Whether that provision of the new law will stand up under a court challenge remains to be seen.
Perhaps the sweetest victory was for state Rep. Jim Aslanides (R-Coshocton), who had championed HB-347, and was the father of the original concealed carry legislation, now considered to have been the “sensible first step” toward greater firearms freedoms in the state.
“Local governments have created a patchwork of unknown laws aimed at disarming their law abiding residents in different ways than their neighbors in another town,” said Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans for Concealed Carry. “This confusing patchwork also unfairly traps the unwary gun owner traveling through their jurisdictions. This reform isn’t just needed, it’s long overdue and brings Ohio in line with the rest of the country.”
“Cities are out of the firearm regulation business,” said Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson. “As an attorney who litigates firearm rights cases and who also represents and has represented municipalities, I can say that the mandatory attorney fee provision is a ‘big stick.’ Taxpayers are not going to be happy if their elected representatives have to pay $50,000 in attorney fees over futile attempts to continue enforce worthless local ordinances.”
“In practical effect, the Ohio bill is the most significant roll-back of gun control that has ever been enacted by a state,” wrote gun rights scholar David Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute in Colorado. “Preemption laws swept the country in the 1980s, after Morton Grove, Illinois, banned handguns. In most state legislatures, the bills were intended to prevent future local gun bans, since there were few local bans that were in effect. I am not aware of any other state where a preemption law has wiped out so many local ordinances which were already on the books.”
Return to Archive Index