Cincinnati Files Lawsuit Against State Concerning Local Gun Laws

Jun 6, 2019

Cincinnati is filing a lawsuit against the State of Ohio over Ohio House Bill 228, which Mayor John Cranley said preempts cities from enacting legislation to reduce gun violence.  

Cincinnati joins other Ohio cities including Columbus in such legal action.

"Which violates our home rule authority, preempts cities from taking any reasonable action to reduce gun violence despite the fact that the people elected want to and the people electing them want us to," Cranley said.

The city's lawsuit was filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Thursday.

"The Ohio Constitution allows cities to govern themselves, it's the principle of home rule," said Assistant City Solicitor Emily Smart Woerner. "So, what this lawsuit seeks to do is to vindicate the city's constitutionally protected right to govern itself and to enact common sense gun legislation."

The city is asking a court to declare HB228 violates the separation of powers mandated by the Ohio Constitution; violates the home rule rights of the city under the constitution; and bar the state from enforcing the legislation.

"This complaint alleges that the State of Ohio acted unconstitutionally and illegally by enacting a punitive firearms preemption law … that imposes substantial sanctions on municipalities that enact or do not repeal ordinances found to be preempted by Ohio state law even if the ordinance is not currently enforced," read the complaint.
 
The lawsuit said it's an "effort to silence local elected officials and the municipalities they represent, and it stands in the way of specific legislative steps that the city seeks to take to protect their cities from gun violence."

The complaint said since 2015, there have been 1,772 victims of gun violence in the city.

The court filing notes the September 2018 shooting at Fifth Third Center on Fountain Square, and the city's desire to enact new laws to prevent such future tragedies, but HB228 prevent such local ordinances.