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Columbus leaders announce new gun legislation in effort to reduce violent crime

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announces new legislative measures to address gun violence. (WSYX)
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announces new legislative measures to address gun violence. (WSYX)
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In their continued effort to curb gun violence in the city, Columbus leaders announced on Wednesday three new pieces of firearm legislation.

City Councilmember Shayla Favor said the proposed legislation will do the following:

1) Define “large capacity magazine” as any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, clip or other similar device that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, thirty (30) or more rounds of ammunition for use in a firearm. This definition does not include any of the following:

  • A feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than ten rounds of ammunition;
  • A .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device;
  • A tubular magazine that is contained in a lever action firearm;
  • A magazine that is permanently inoperable.

"This legislation will prohibit the possession of a large capacity magazine by anyone other than a federal or state agent or armed services member or a member of state or local law enforcement," Favor said. "There is no reason for ordinary citizens to possess military-grade weapons."

2) Promote safe storage of firearms. The legislation will penalize those who fail to exercise due care in storing their firearms when they know or reasonably should know that a minor is able to gain access to them.

"Recognizing that there are residents who are safely storing their firearms, the legislation provides affirmative defenses for negligent homicide and negligent assault when a resident has properly stored their firearm," Favor said.

3) Stress "straw men sale" of firearms. The legislation will address straw men sales of firearms and the role that they play in guns falling into the hands of the wrong individuals. This legislation prohibits the reckless selling, lending, giving, or furnishing of a firearm to a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. It will also criminalizes an individual who purchases or attempts to purchase a firearm who intends to sell the firearm to a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

"We know that this is not an overnight fix to an often evasive problem but it is a step in the right to direction to creating a safer Columbus," Favor said.

Favor called out state and federal lawakers for their inaction on gun control.

"Gun control simply cannot wait," Favor said.

Council President Shannon Hardin said council will be considering the proposed legislation but said no member of the city leadership wants to take guns from law-abiding citizens.

He said the city will listen to its residents who have been affected by gun violence and will work to stand up to the "gun madness" at the Ohio Statehouse.

As the legislation was announced, Mayor Andrew Ginther said 91% of last year's homicides were committed with a firearm.

"We have a crisis on our hands," he said. "It's time for us to act."

Ginther said so far this year, Columbus police have seized nearly 3,000 guns. More than 200 of those have been assault-style weapons.

Ginther referenced several recent deadly shootings, including on at a Sheetz on the northeast side when Kevin Sobnosky, 21, of Youngstown, was caught in the crossfire of a shootout and was killed while getting gas.

"This is what AR-15s are doing to our community," Ginther said.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said the legislation announced Wednesday was made possible after a judge blocked Ohio law.

He said it is time for the city to "take a more significant bite out of gun violence."

"Gun violence is completely preventable," Klein said.

Klein said the city has made strides to decrease violence but a legislative strategy was a key missing piece. He said Wednesday's announced legislation is a step in the right direction.

In response to the city's announcement, the Buckeye Firearms Association said the city is "misleading the public about the recent court ruling."

"Our reading of this ruling is that it is narrowly focused on the issue of municipal zoning for firearm manufacturers," Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association Dean Rieck said. "It is NOT a green light for Columbus or other cities to pass gun control laws.”

The ruling reads as follows:

The Court agrees that R.C. 9.68 unconstitutionally infringes upon the Plaintiff’s right to exercise its zoning powers. Paragraph (D) specifically permits municipalities to regulate the sale (emphasis added) of firearms, firearm components or ammunition for firearms in areas zoned for residential or agricultural uses. It does not specifically grant municipalities zoning to limit gun manufacturing in areas zoned residential and agricultural.

The Buckeye Firearms Association argued that cities do not have the legal authority to regulate firearms, firearm components, ammunition, or knives.

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"Buckeye Firearms Association has already won in court against Columbus and other cities over this very issue," the Buckeye Firearms Association said in a statement. "It is time for city officials to stop wasting taxpayer dollars in their futile effort to flout state law."

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