Gun rights groups protest Ohio cities' regulations as 'abuse of power'

Gun rights activists in Ohio are suing the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati over recently enacted gun regulations that they regard as an “abuse of power.”

The lawsuits, filed by Ohioans for Concealed Carry and the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, maintains that the gun regulations violate state pre-emption laws, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

“This will be the seventh and eighth time we have had to bring legal action against municipalities,” Gary Witt, with Ohioans for Concealed Carry, told FOX 28 in Columbus. “We will win again.”

But proponents say the regulations are “reasonable.”

“We are vigorously going to defend them,” City Attorney Zach Klein said.

In May, Cincinnati became the first city in Ohio to ban bump stocks, attachments that make a sem-automatic weapon fire like a machine gun.

That same month, Columbus approved a broad package of regulations to ban bump stocks, make carrying a gun while under disability a misdemeanor, and prohibit brandishing imitation firearms in public, among other items.

Bump stocks became a focus of attention after the Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas, when the gunman was found to have used the device to kill nearly 60 people and injure scores of others.

The Ohio gun rights groups have requested that the new ordinances be suspended until their lawsuits are settled.

Chuck LaRosa, of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, claimed the regulations were passed merely to make politicians look good, following recent highly publicized shootings elsewhere, rather than to reduce gun violence.

The regulations are “not designed to keep guns away from anybody or make anybody any safer, but rather, designed to make members of a city council and the mayor easier to get elected,” LaRosa said.

Dean Rieke, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, agreed.

"These lawsuits are not about the bump stock per se, it's about the rule of law in Ohio," Rieke told WOSU Radio in Columbus. "Because it's our belief that they're passing these laws as a test to see what they can get away with."

"These lawsuits are not about the bump stock per se ... it's our belief that they're passing these laws as a test to see what they can get away with."

— Dean Rieke, executive director, Buckeye Firearms Association

Attorneys representing the gun rights groups have said classifying bump stocks as a gun accessory rather than a part is “a dubious form of legal gymnastics meant to circumvent the intent and meaning.”

A spokeswoman for the Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther maintained the city is merely acting in the public’s best interest.

“We look forward to defending these common-sense gun laws that the community asked for,” she said.

The lawsuit comes as numerous states across the country are cracking down on firearm regulations in a purported effort to decrease the number of gun massacres.

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed six new bills that further tightened gun regulations,

But on Sunday, a gun fight broke out in Trenton, in which one person was killed and 22 people were wounded, leading gun rights advocates to question the effectiveness of more regulations.