(Sept. 18, 2008) The Supreme Court of Ohio held today that a Clyde city ordinance banning possession of firearms in municipal parks is unconstitutional because it conflicts with a general state law that permits licensed individuals to carry a concealed weapon on any public property other than at locations specified in the state statute. The Court’s 4-3 decision was authored by Justice Terrence O’Donnell.
In January 2004, the General Assembly enacted R.C. 2923.126, a state law allowing persons who meet certain qualifications and obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in Ohio other than in excepted locations enumerated in the statute. In uncodified language adopted as part of the concealed carry bill, the legislature declared that its purpose was to adopt a general and uniform regulatory scheme for the concealed carry of firearms in all parts of the state. In adopting that scheme, the legislature stated that it intended to preempt the future adoption or enforcement by any Ohio municipality or political subdivision of any local ordinance that conflicted with state law by prohibiting the carrying of a concealed weapon in a location where concealed carry is permitted by R.C. 2923.126.
In June 2004, the Clyde City Council enacted a municipal ordinance that prohibited any person within the confines of any city park from possession of a deadly weapon. The ordinance expressly included in its weapons ban persons who were licensed to carry a concealed firearm “pursuant to R.C. 2923.125.” In August 2004, Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OCC) filed suit in the Sandusky County Court of Common Pleas seeking a declaratory judgment that the Clyde ordinance was void and unenforceable because it was in conflict with R.C. 2923.126.
While the Clyde case was pending, the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Toledo v. Beatty upheld a Toledo city ordinance banning guns from city parks. Citing Beatty, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Clyde, affirming the enforceability of its ordinance. OCC appealed. While that appeal was pending, the legislature adopted new legislation, H.B. 347, reaffirming its intent to enact a statute that would “provide uniform laws throughout the state” regulating the concealed carry of firearms and explicitly stating that Ohioans have a fundamental constitutional right to possess a firearm where such possession is not expressly prohibited by the U.S. or Ohio constitutions or by a state or federal law. In light of the adoption of H.B. 347, the 6th District abandoned its previous holding in Beatty, reversed the ruling of the trial court, and invalidated the Clyde city ordinance as in conflict with a “general law of the state.”
Clyde sought and was granted Supreme Court review of the appellate court ruling.
The majority in today’s decision, rejected Clyde’s claim that the challenged ordinance was a valid exercise of the city’s “home rule” powers granted by Section 3, Article XVIII, of the Ohio Constitution, and affirmed the 6th District’s holding that the local ordinance is unconstitutional because it conflicts with a general law of the state.
Read the rest of the opinion summary here. The court's opinion is available here.
One more win for law-abiding gun owners, one more setback for city