Cartoon of lying politician

Columbus' anti-gun virtue signaling: All show, useless for security

A false sense of security is not true security. Doing things for show does nothing to protect people's lives.

Yet that's exactly what continues to occur throughout our country. Every time an atrocity involving a firearm occurs, virtue-signaling politicians, media outlets, and talking heads rush to blame firearms and "the gun lobby."

Then comes the barrage of people far too willing to forgo their freedoms if it means "saving just one life." Social-media platforms become inundated with memes like "I want to live in a country that loves its children more than it loves its guns."

Let's look at some of the commonalities among these merchants of misguided morality:

  • They clearly aren't interested in statistical facts and willingly repeat false claims based on propaganda from anti-gun groups.
  • They repeatedly demonstrate their near total lack of firearms knowledge.
  • They're more than willing to forfeit freedom for security — unless it's a freedom they hold in high regard.
  • They continually fail to recognize that almost all of these "mass" shootings occur in so-called gun-free zones, such as malls and schools, where citizens who might otherwise be armed are unable to fire back.
  • They have no use for the U.S. Constitution's amendments unless they believe their own rights — even if they aren't actually in the Constitution — are being violated.

Again, policy based on feelings and political points solves nothing. Those who really love the country's children should ask honest questions about ways to protect them instead of jumping on the "assault weapons" ban wagon.

Costs of ignoring state law, Ohio Supreme Court ruling

Look at the useless ordinances some of Ohio's cities continually try to pass, despite the fact that those ordinances violate state law (ORC 9.68) and the Supreme Court of Ohio's 2010 ruling that the law is indeed constitutional.

The Buckeye Firearms Association in February filed a public-records request for copies of Columbus City Council members' email mentions of firearms, preemption, and other key terms related to the city's unlawful gun ordinance passed in December 2022.

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For starters, the city failed in its obligation to provide those records in a timely manner. Then once it finally did several weeks later, it hid behind an "attorney-client privilege" excuse for some records, even though the state's courts have said repeatedly that such a privilege is to be strictly interpreted (See page 46 of the 2023 Ohio Sunshine Laws).

We found it odd, though, that those emails the city did provide include very little discussion on the introduction of such a law. Are we to believe that EVERYTHING in the discussion is protected by attorney-client privilege? Wouldn't that suggest a strategy to proactively hide public information from voters and taxpayers?

We could have pressed the issue, but it wasn't necessary. We don't need to expose an agenda that's been obvious from the start, as demonstrated by their idea to use a so-called public health crisis as one way to skirt state law. We mostly wanted to see if they were so open about their cause that they'd readily share their conversations about it. As expected, they weren't.

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These city leaders aren't really interested in improving safety, and they're ultimately going to cost their taxpayers more in litigation costs, especially if they try to actually charge anyone for violating any such laws.

As the state law currently states:

“A person, group, or entity adversely affected by any manner of ordinance, rule, regulation, resolution, practice, or other action enacted or enforced by a political subdivision in conflict with division (A) of this section may bring a civil action against the political subdivision seeking damages from the political subdivision, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or a combination of those remedies. Any damages awarded shall be awarded against, and paid by, the political subdivision.”

A Delaware County judge on April 25 ordered Columbus to halt its ordinance, and as expected, the city on April 28 filed an appeal.

The irony — hypocrisy, really — is that the city's filings in the Delaware County case repeatedly mention Supreme Court rulings, yet the city fails to acknowledge the high court's 2010 ruling that bars them from these costly actions.

Targeting law-abiding citizens

The centerpiece of Columbus' new ordinance is a ban on "high capacity" magazines and "proper" firearms storage.

According to city code, failure to properly secure a firearm could result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which could mean 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

But failure to comply with the new magazine law could result in a “misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail with a mandatory minimum jail term of at least one hundred eighty (180) consecutive days during which mandatory jail term the defendant shall not be eligible for work release and up to a $1500 fine.”

That's right: The city can violate state law, but if you violate the city's laws, you get jail time and/or a hefty fine.

But here's the real kicker: It's a law that, in the city's own words, mostly relies on an honor system among the city's good citizens and its violent criminal contingent.

A memorandum filed March 31 in the Delaware County case by assistant city attorney Matthew Sturtz reads in part:

"The new ordinance created a mechanism for surrendering large capacity magazines and conferred immunity from prosecution until July 1, 2023, for persons who lawfully acquired or possessed large capacity magazines prior to December 5, 2022."

As city attorney Zach Klein told The Columbus Dispatch in early March:

"To some degree, that is an honor system. … We have no intention of going door-to-door."

We have little doubt that one of the primary reasons behind this is that the city wants to prohibit the display of firearms at protests and rallies, even though such displays never result in gun violence.

Real common sense

Look at some of the actual text in Columbus' new ordinance, which was updated Feb. 27:

No person who lawfully acquired or possessed a large capacity magazine prior to December 5, 2022 shall be prosecuted for lawfully possessing a large capacity magazine in violation of section 2323.32 prior to July 1, 2023. Any person who may not lawfully possess a large-capacity magazine as of December 5, 2022, shall, prior to July 1, 2023:

(1) Remove the large-capacity magazine from the City limits; or

(2) Prior to July 1, 2023, sell the large-capacity magazine to a licensed firearms dealer located outside of the City limits; or

(3) Surrender the large capacity magazine for destruction by reporting the possession of the large capacity magazine to the Columbus Division of Police, describing the large capacity magazine in the person's possession and where the person may be found, and voluntarily surrendering the large capacity magazine to the Division of Police.

The highlight: The city is asking for compliance from those who legally acquired those magazines and from those who didn't. How does that make sense to anyone?

Ask yourself two simple questions: Is it likely that lawbreakers would comply with any new law related to the laws they're already willingly violating? And if it's only law-abiding citizens complying, exactly how would that improve safety for anyone?

Among the records the city did eventually provide BFA were several letters from residents who get it — many from Columbus and some from elsewhere. Here's just one example:

Both the State of Ohio and the Supreme Court have made it abundantly clear that these gun regulations that are under consideration are neither legal nor constitutional. You are aware of this and that numerous legal battles in both state and federal court will be spun up if these laws pass. You will lose. The evidence of this action would indicate to me that you are merely putting on a show to try to convince the anti-gun individuals and organizations that you tried to do something about limiting guns but were not able due to the State of Ohio or Supreme Court. This is amateurship. If you were using your own time and money, then I would say to proceed to your own heart's content. However, you are not using your own time and money, you want to use mine. Please stop wasting the resources of the people of Columbus. You know where the crime is occurring and why, so put our resources there.

Hyperlocal election year

To all Ohioans, it is highly important that you pay close attention to local races in your community — city councils, school boards, township trustees, etc. When those who oppose freedom infiltrate local governments, you will pay a hefty price. We all will.

As Benjamin Franklin often is quoted, including in the National Archives, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Joe D. "Buck" Ruth is a longtime small-game hunter and gun owner who spent nearly three decades in the news industry.

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