A Judge Rules Ohio Can't Block Cincinnati Gun Ordinances, But State Plans To Appeal

CINCINNATI (AP) — A judge has ruled that Ohio can’t block one of its major cities from regulating guns, finding that a state law violates the city’s “home rule” authority.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Branch granted Cincinnati's request for a preliminary injunction Thursday, finding that the “home rule” amendment gives local governments the freedom to enact laws that address the unique circumstances they face.

“While state law may regulate firearms in several areas, there are several meaningful gaps within which municipalities may regulate firearms,” Branch said, adding, “provided they do not conflict with general laws.”

The city had sued the state in January, seeking the injunction to stop the state from enforcing a preemption law that bars municipalities from imposing restrictions on a person’s ability to own, possess, buy, sell, transport or store any gun or part of a gun.

A spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office said the office disagreed with the ruling and planned an appeal, but it wasn't clear Friday when that might happen.

City officials want to be able to enforce two ordinances that were enacted this year. The first addresses the safe storage of guns to keep them away from children, while the other bars people convicted of domestic violence or who are subject to a protection order from possessing firearms.

Officials have said the measures are intended to give law enforcement more options to address gun violence. Any charges brought under the ordinances would be misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Cincinnati is not the only Ohio city that has battled for the authority to regulate firearms. In November 2022, a Franklin County judge sided with Columbus by ruling Ohio’s preemption law unconstitutional, a decision that was overturned last month by a state appellate court.