Cincinnati bans bump stocks; law could face challenge

Cincinnati bans bump stocks; law could face challenge
Posted at 4:35 PM, May 09, 2018

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati City Council voted to ban bump stocks, but the law could face a legal challenge.

The council voted 7-2 Wednesday to pass an ordinance banning bump stocks from the city. Cincinnati is the first city in Ohio to ban bump stocks, which can allow a semi-automatic firearm to be fired at nearly the rate of a fully automatic weapon.

Bump stocks have come under national scrutiny since a shooter in Las Vegas used them last year when he killed nearly 60 people and injured hundreds of others.

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld introduced the city's legislation.

"There comes a time when people need to decide if some perverted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment granting anyone the right to own what's basically a machine gun overrides the right of people to stay alive and not be gunned down by a weapon of war," he said in a written statement. "No city should tacitly condone a device which is specifically intended to maximize carnage."

The new law could soon face opposition. In a letter to city officials last month, Jeff Garvas of the group Ohioans For Concealed Carry wrote that they believe a bump stock ban would be a violation of state law, which prevents local governments from creating additional regulations on "firearms, their components, and their ammuniition."

Garvas indicated the group would sue the city over the law. 

"If our organization is forced to pursue these matters in court a substantial time of taxpayer money will be wasted by the City of Cincinnati in defending ordinances that its legal advisors should be advising against," he wrote.

Philip Mulivor, a spokesman for Ohioans For Concealed Carry, said he couldn't disclose whether the group does intend to sue, but said law-abiding gun owners need uniform laws to follow across the state.

"These types of local ordinances which cities in Ohio are so fond of passing from time to time are illegal," he said.

In a memo to the mayor and council earlier this year, City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething cautioned that the city could face damages and attorney fees if they lose a court case over the issue. 

However, Boggs Muething wrote that the city could win in court because bump stocks could be categorized as "accessories" or "attachments" rather than a "component" of a firearm. The Ohio Supreme Court has not yet considered that difference, she wrote.

"Accordingly, there is a risk of a legal challenge and an adverse judgment," Boggs Muething wrote.

Sittenfeld said he's hoping more local governments will ban bump stocks.

"We've already been waiting far too long. There's been far too much bloodshed," he said. "Enough is enough. Local communities must act."