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City Announces Proposals to Bridge Gap Between Federal and State Gun Laws

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega City Announces Proposals to Bridge Gap Between Federal and State Gun Laws
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The City of Columbus is taking local action to reduce gun violence, announcing today several ordinances that would bridge the gaps between federal and state gun laws. The proposed ordinances, announced on Wednesday, March 21 by Mayor Andrew Ginther, City Council President Shannon Hardin, and City Attorney Zach Klein, would specifically target perpetrators of domestic violence as well as commercial areas where felony crimes are regularly committed.

“We know what predictors there are that lead to fatality in domestic violence situations. We understand the patterns that happen in those relationships that result in the death of the abused victim,” said Sue Villilo, Executive Director of Choices for Victims of Domestic Violence, who introduced the press conference. “We know that if there is a gun present in a DV [domestic violence] situation, that the victim is 500 times more likely to be killed. It’s vital that we remove guns from these situations.”

Should the ordinances be enacted, anyone who has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence (including intimate partner violence), currently is the subject of a protection order, or was previously convicted of or under indictment for a felony, will be prohibited from owning, possessing, and carrying a firearm. If an individual violates the ordinance, it carries a mandatory minimum sentencing of six months of jail time.

Those who are found to be possessing a firearm while violating protection orders would also face a minimum of six months in jail. This proposal is aimed at protecting alleged victims of DV, as well as menacing by stalking and sexual assault.

City officials are also calling for an end to the commercial sale of firearms in residential areas and an expansion of the weapons reporting process.

Columbus could see the prohibition of bump stocks and other related accessories as well, which are designed to make it easier to “bump fire,” or fire shots in rapid succession.

Imitation firearms would see tighter restrictions, too. Brandishing them in public spaces, as well as any alteration or removal of their distinguishing features would be banned, and only those over 18 years of age would be able to purchase them.

Finally, the city would alter its nuisance code to enable the shutdown of businesses where felony violence occurs.

“We literally have situations in the city of Columbus where a bar may have violent crime, shootings, stabbings taking place in and around its premises,” Klein said, “but we need to go in and see a 19-year-old buy a beer before we can shut it down — devoid of common sense.”

Klein and other city leaders spoke similarly about the limited freedom municipalities are granted to enforce laws independently from state and federal governments. The city attorney spoke of three assault weapons bans that were all overturned by either a federal appellate court or the Ohio legislature.

The Ohio Revised Code, Section 9.68, however, does give some leeway, enabling Columbus and other cities to enforce existing federal laws that often go ignored throughout the state.

“[The code] explicitly states a relevant part, that ‘Except as specifically provided by federal and state law, a person without further license, permission, restriction, delay or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store or keep any firearm, part of firearm, its components and ammunition — except as provided by state and federal law,” Klein said. “Those exceptions are why we’re here today.”

“Someone could be a criminal under federal law, not allowed to possess a gun, and still be able to possess a gun under Ohio law. We’re proposing to close that gap,” he continued.

Columbus City Council will be holding public discussions on the proposed ordinances, the dates of which have yet to be released.

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