FLASH: Ohio Supreme Court to hear case involving Cleveland's enforcement of illegal gun control laws
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving the city of Cleveland's ongoing fight to enforce its illegal local gun control ordinances.
Last November, a three judge panel in the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals sided with Cleveland, declaring that Ohio R.C 9.68 - which became law in 2007 with passage of HB347 to preempt local gun control and ensure statewide uniformity of gun laws - is unconstitutional.
Judges Colleen Conway-Cooney, Ann Dyke (both Democrats facing re-election in 2010), and Melody Stewart (a Democrat facing re-election in 2012) reversed a lower court's decision to uphold the law.
At the time the ruling was announced, Buckeye Firearms Association Legislative Chair Ken Hanson told the media:
"The Supreme Court will reverse whatever reasoning they dreamed up."
That prediction is now one step closer to reality.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
In 2007, Ohio's gun laws were revised to stipulate that permit holders could openly carry firearms in Ohio. House Bill 347 was intended to create a uniform gun law across the state and end the hodgepodge of rules from city to city, county to county.
"The legislature also determined that it needed to provide uniform laws throughout the state governing firearms possession," the attorney general's office wrote on behalf of the legislature in a brief asking the court to review the case. "It therefore restricted the ability of political subdivisions to enact local firearms ordinances."
Later, in Ohioans For Concealed Carry, Inc. v. City of Clyde, the Supreme Court upheld R.C. 9.68 as it relates to handguns, albeit in dicta, when it stated, "[s]imply put, the General Assembly, by enacting R.C. 9.68(A), gave persons in Ohio the right to carry a handgun unless federal or state law prohibits them from doing so. A municipal ordinance cannot infringe on that broad statutory right."
Despite state law and a clear statement from the Supreme Court on the subject, leaders in the financially-challenged City of Cleveland chose to ignore state law, continuing to enforce its illegal gun control ordinances while funding a go-it-alone court challenge.
Again, from the Plain Dealer:
The city contends the legislature has no authority to pass a law that trumps a city's constitutionally protected home rule rights, which allows it to pass laws specific to its municipality.
"The power of home rule 'expressly conferred upon municipalities' cannot be withdrawn by the General Assembly," city attorneys wrote in response to the state's brief. "Local authority to legislate is grounded in the constitution, not the general assembly."
In a press release announcing the Supreme Court's agreement to hear the case, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said "I am pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court accepted our appeal and will clarify the rights of Ohio's gun owners. The current uncertainty over the legitimacy of these local firearms ordinances creates confusion for our local officials, as well as for thousands of gun owners."
What's at stake, said Cordray, is a "state law designed to protect gun ownership and possession in Ohio."
The Supreme Court is expected to hold oral arguments on this case sometime this fall.