Ohio Supreme Court setback is not the end of BFF/OFCC "bump stock" suit against Columbus
The divided ruling handed down by the Ohio Supreme Court on December 18 addressing the joint Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF) / Ohioans For Concealed Carry (OFCC) suit challenging the City of Columbus' ban on bump stocks and certain other devices is a setback, but the fight is not over.
First, from the Columbus Dispatch:
The 4-3 decision released Friday morning found that Ohioans for Concealed Carry and Buckeye Firearms Foundation had suffered no harm in a case the justices heard despite that the Columbus City Council had repealed its ordinance a year ago, telling the court that made the case moot.
The city's repeal of the ban came just weeks after the Supreme Court, also on a 4-3 decision, agreed to hear the case late last year.
The ordinance was not moot, the court found, because the city could simply pass the ordinance again in the future. However, because the two gun-rights groups "are not taxpayers in their own right, they have not established standing to bring a taxpayer action," among many other technical reasons for the dismissal, the Supreme Court found.
Last year the two gun-rights groups had removed their names from the suit after an appeals court loss, also based on their lack of standing. That left only plaintiff Gary Witt, a Columbus resident who is a member of Ohioans for Concealed Carry. The city argued that Witt, too, had no standing, because he had not been charged with a misdemeanor offense under the ordinance.
Justice Judith French, a Republican who will leave the court in January after losing her re-election bid in November to Democrat Jennifer Brunner, concurred in Friday's decision, along with Michael Donnelly, Melody Stewart and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. Dissenting were justices Sharon Kennedy, Patrick DeWine and Patrick Fischer.
The decision essentially sends the case back down to a lower court.
No matter what the outcome of the suit, it has already born fruit because, as mentioned in the Dispatch article, the city repealed their ordinance on "trigger enhancers" in advance of the ruling. As such, we've already won a victory. Clearly city officials knows their ordinance can't withstand legal challenge and are just playing games.
In November, BFF/OFCC defeated the City of Cincinnati's appeal of our suit over its improper regulation of "bump stocks."
The city passed the ordinance in 2018 in direct violation of Ohio Revised Code, which bars municipalities from regulating guns, gun components, and ammunition. BFF sued the city, winning a Motion for Summary Judgment with the court issuing a permanent injunction in Feb. 2019. Cincinnati appealed the decision. However, on Nov. 25, 2020, the appellate court upheld the original Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas ruling.
You can read the entire ruling here.
"There was no doubt we were in the right in this case," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association. “Ohio law very specifically says that local municipalities are not permitted to enact firearms laws that conflict with state law. And clearly, outlawing guns or gun parts, is an outright violation of state law.
"Not only did we know the law was improper, the City of Cincinnati knew it as well, and they passed the ordinance anyway, throwing away taxpayer money for a brazen stunt meant to score political points."
This ruling is a significant victory because several Ohio municipalities have attempted to defy state law in this manner. This sends yet another signal that cities cannot sidestep state law and blatantly infringe on gun owner rights.
Buckeye Firearms Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that seeks to support Second Amendment rights through youth shooting programs, grants, education, and litigation to defend gun owners against infringement of rights and force local governments and other entities to comply with Ohio gun laws.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.