Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New gun laws now in effect in Cincinnati

Cincinnati City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to require safe storage of guns around children and allow for local enforcement of the federal ban on people with a domestic violence conviction possessing a firearm.

"The data has shown time and time again that the causes of this violence are poverty [and] the inability to resolve differences peacefully," Mayor Aftab Pureval said. "But because of inaction at the federal level, and because of overreach at the state level, oftentimes our hands are tied on addressing the third root cause, which is the universal accessibility of guns. That ends today."

Council Member Liz Keating co-sponsored the legislation.

"I challenge all elected officials at every level of government, on all ends of the political spectrum — including my own fellow Republicans — to step up and take action to protect our kids and their families," Keating said.

Suicide accounts for more than half of U.S. gun deaths, according to the Pew Research Center. And up to 90% of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal.

Steve Calardo is an attorney, gun owner and volunteer with Moms Demand Action. He says the rules are important even if they face a legal challenge.

"If one life is saved because a child doesn't get easy access to the gun and shoot another [child], then this has been successful," he said. "If someone who has a mental health crisis doesn't have easy access to a firearm, that life may be saved."

RELATED: New '988' suicide prevention lifeline launches nationwide

Violent crime in Cincinnati reached an all-time low last year, with a 17% reduction in homicides compared to the year before. But although fewer shootings were fatal in 2022, the number of shootings stayed about the same.

Domestic disputes, including intimate partner violence, are the top-ranking circumstance for homicides last year.

A graph showing the number of shooting victims in Cincinnati from 2017 through 2022.
City of Cincinnati
A graph showing the number of shooting victims in Cincinnati from 2017 through 2022.

Mayor Pureval says this is a key part of efforts to reduce gun violence in the city, but it's not enough.

Officials say the ordinance is written narrowly enough to comply with state laws that ban cities from passing local gun regulations. Council also passed a resolution expressing support for the city's new lawsuit challenging those state laws. The resolution says the lawsuit is necessary "to enable continued public proposal, debate and discussion of gun-related ordinances and resolutions without escalating risk of [state law] liability."

RELATED: DeWine signs bill making it easier for people to carry concealed guns

"When you hear criticism from folks that say, 'Oh, this isn't going to prevent crime,' or, 'They want to take away guns from legitimate gun owners,' that's not what this is about," Calardo said. "This is about preventing some key segments of gun violence, and I think they will accomplish that."

Safe storage

The ordinance establishes a rule that "dangerous ordnances" must be stored in a way that is inaccessible to children. That includes firearms, explosive or incendiary devices, blasting agents, explosive substances, rocket launchers, or similar weapons. It does not include certain firearms, certain antique weapons or guns that are inoperable as long as they can't be easily made operable again.

The ordinance defines "safe storage" as a safe, case or lockbox, but also a device installed directly on a firearm designed to prevent it from being operated without first deactivating the device.

CPD offers free gun locks to Cincinnati residents; gun owners can access one by contacting their Neighborhood Liaison Officer.

RELATED: Cincinnati sues Ohio so it can do more on gun control

Domestic violence

The prohibition on possessing a firearm would apply to a person convicted of domestic violence, or someone subject to a court order related to harassment, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child.

That's already a federal law, but Cincinnati Police and prosecutors can't pursue federal criminal cases; by putting in city code, local resources can be dedicated to enforcing it.

"This is not about going and knocking on somebody's door to take a firearm away from them," Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge said when the ordinance was introduced last month. "But when circumstances are put in front of [officers] ... that shows somebody is breaking the law, they will take the appropriate action. If that includes removing the firearm, that's what they'll do."

Theetge says 20 people in Cincinnati were murdered in incidents of domestic violence last year.

Read the full ordinance below:

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.