Appeals court slams Franklin County judge over Columbus gun law ruling

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023, the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Stephen McIntosh, who had previously issued an injunction to block the state of Ohio from enforcing "preemption" (uniform) firearms laws.

The appellate court's three-judge panel aggressively criticized McIntosh for a poorly written opinion and a four-year delay in issuing his decision on a case brought by the city of Columbus in early 2019.

The judge had let the case sit idle for years, until Columbus leaders pressured him to act.

"We said from the beginning that Columbus' lawsuit against the state had no merit and should not be taken seriously," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association.

"And the appeals court not only criticized the judge, but criticized Columbus for presenting a poorly argued case. At no point did City Attorney Zack Klein address the fact that the Ohio Supreme Court has twice ruled on this matter and found Ohio's firearm preemption law to be valid in all aspects."

Regardless, this case is moot because Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley issued a preliminary injunction in April to stop Columbus from enforcing its gun control ordinances.

[Read the Tenth District Court of Appeals ruling]

Despite the embarrassing smackdown of the judge, the Tenth District decision did not decide the merits of the case, and it has been sent back to the trial court for further litigation.

Attorney General Dave Yost issue a statement on Aug. 16:

In a win for the state of Ohio, the Tenth District Court of Appeals has upheld state law on firearms uniformity, overturning a preliminary injunction granted nine months ago to the city of Columbus, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced today.

"The court's ruling assures that all Ohioans must abide by the same law, state law, when it comes to firearms,” AG Yost said. "Just like we argued in court, firearms owners statewide should have to follow the same rules. We applaud the decision.”

The decision says the city of Columbus failed to prove irreparable injury, harm to others, or public interest in seeking a preliminary injunction against Section 9.68 of the Ohio Revised Code – commonly called the firearms uniformity law. It also blames the city's "inartful drafting” of pleadings for the trial court's wrongful injunction.

The case dates from 2019, when Columbus officials sued the state, claiming that the firearms uniformity law is unconstitutional. In November 2022, a Franklin County Common Pleas judge granted a preliminary injunction, which was stayed upon appeal.

The Tenth District Court's decision on the appeal is in line with an injunction issued in April 2023 by a Delaware County judge against Columbus' ordinances.

The case now heads back to the Franklin County trial court for further proceedings.

What is this case about?

In 2007, the Ohio legislature enacted a BFA-backed firearms "preemption" law forbidding any political subdivision, including cities, from enacting their own gun control ordinances. The law was updated in 2019.

The city of Columbus sued the state in 2019, claiming that preemption violated their "home rule" rights to regulate guns, despite the Ohio Supreme Court ruling on two separate occasions that preemption is valid law and in no way unconstitutional.

The judge sat on the case for years before Columbus sued the judge and forced him to issue a ruling in Columbus' favor. In the meantime, Columbus decided to pass gun control laws pretending that the Supreme Court's rulings didn't happen.

In a separate case brought against Columbus by the Buckeye Institute against Columbus in April of this year, Gormley blocked Columbus' gun control laws with a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement.

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