Columbus — A Cincinnati city councilman and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate announced plans Jan. 28 to pursue a constitutional amendment to allow Ohio cities to implement localized firearm restrictions.
PG Sittenfeld and others want to block a decade-old state law that enabled the state to institute uniform firearms regulations, preempting ordinances adopted in more than 20 Ohio cities at the time.
“If our amendment passes, Ohio cities and municipalities will once again be allowed to enact the gun reform they want, as long as they’re consistent with the Ohio and U.S. constitutions,” Sittenfeld said, adding, “We realize that not every Ohio city will choose to enact new gun safety laws, and we are not asking them to. We simply believe that cities wishing to enact common sense reforms should be able to while those that don’t should be free to keep things as they are.”
Prior to 2007, cities like Columbus and Cleveland had local ordinances in place banning assault weapons, while Toledo prohibited firearms in city parks, Sittenfeld said. Those ordinances were blocked after lawmakers OK’d legislation in 2006 preempting local firearms laws. The Ohio Supreme Court later upheld the law.
Backers have already developed the wording of the short amendment, and Sittenfeld said they hoped to submit by March the initial 1,000 signatures required before they can fully launch their petition effort. They would have to collect signatures from more than 300,000 registered Ohio voters to qualify for the ballot.
“We know it won’t be easy, and we harbor no illusions about being able to garner over 300,000 signatures from registered voters all by ourselves…,” Sittenfeld said. “If we fall short of signatures we need to get on the ballot this year, we’ll keep working to bring our amendment to the ballot next year or, if necessary, the year after that.”
The head of one firearms group, however, called the proposal “ridiculous.”
“Preemption was a solution to a serious problem in Ohio where we had a patchwork of gun laws throughout the state,” Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said in a released statement. “[State law] now says clearly that gun laws must be consistent in Ohio and that cites cannot ban something that state law allows. Quite literally, Sittenfeld is proposing a constitutional amendment to prevent the exercise of a constitutional right.”
He added, “The problem is that Ohio is a very pro-gun state. It’s not a coincidence that we’ve passed so many gun-friendly laws here. Ohio voters elect legislators and so it is the voters who oppose most of the gun control proposals like Sittenfeld’s. Buckeye Firearms Association strongly opposes any ballot initiative that would infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Ohio.”
Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.