Grandview Heights City Council will hold a first reading Monday, April 1, of a resolution encouraging Congress and the Ohio General Assembly to "adopt a holistic approach to ending gun violence" and supporting what it calls "common-sense" gun-safety legislation.
The legislation will be introduced at council four days after House Bill 228 is scheduled to take effect March 28. The bill, which was approved late last year by the Ohio General Assembly, helped prod Grandview council's safety committee into action, local leaders said.
HB 228's provisions include changes to state law that would further restrict municipalities' ability to adopt local gun ordinances, city officials have said.
"It's an infringement on local home rule," safety committee chairman Steve Reynolds said.
"One of the things we're urging our state and national representatives to do is to allow local governments to enact local gun policies that we believe are necessary to protect the safety of people in our own jurisdictions," safety committee member Melanie Houston said.
"The Ohio General Assembly removed our ability to do that with House Bill 228, which they passed over Gov. (John) Kasich's veto," she said.
The city of Columbus filed suit against the state March 19 in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, seeking to block implementation of the law while the court determines whether it violates the city's home-rule authority.
Although the lawsuit was filed after the draft of the Grandview resolution was completed, both Reynolds and Houston said they support Columbus' action.
"At the very least, we will be a silent supporter of their lawsuit," Reynolds said.
HB 228 didn't itself restrict municipalities' authority to set gun laws, Buckeye Firearms Association executive director Dean Rieck said. It reinforced what already was in place, he said.
The Columbus lawsuit likely will fail because the "home rule" argument was settled almost a decade ago by the Ohio Supreme Court, Rieck said.
"In 2010, the court by a 5-2 opinion upheld Ohio's pre-emption law, which set uniform regulations in the state regarding firearms, their components and ammunition," he said. "I don't think the Columbus lawsuit is going to go anywhere because pre-emption is so well established in Ohio.
"Before the pre-emption law, we had a patchwork of gun laws, with each municipality being able to set its own law," Rieck said. "You could be in compliance with the law in one community and walk 100 yards down the street and be in violation of another city's law."
City leaders say they have a responsibility to make sure Grandview residents are safe.
"One of our core fundamental roles on council is to make sure we're protecting our children and families in Grandview," Houston said.
It's the local municipality that provides police and fire protection for its residents, she said, and communities should be able to decide what measures help keep their residents safer.
"We're a family-friendly community," Houston said. "Our children should be able to go to school and not have to fear for their safety. The issue of gun violence in our schools has become a public-health epidemic.
"What we're calling for in this legislation is just some common-sense measures that can make our schools and our communities safer."
The measures advocated in the legislation "are steps most people would find to be simple common sense that wouldn't infringe on our Second Amendment rights," Reynolds said.
"That's his opinion about what constitutes 'common -sense' gun laws and what is or isn't an infringement on Second Amendment rights," Rieck said. "These measures would be an infringement on our gun rights. Because it's in the Constitution, the bar is very high on this."
Rieck said other communities have approved resolutions supporting similar measures.
"But there's no supporting data that shows a reduction in violent crime is the result when these type of laws are put in the books," he said.
"If you ask me how do we reduce crime, I have three answers," Rieck said. "Hire more police officers, enforce the laws that are already in place and, when someone is a violent offender and has a long record of assault or domestic-violence incidents, you put them away for a long time."
The resolution also calls for proper funding of programs that address mental health, substance-abuse treatment and prevention of domestic violence or suicide and supports public-health research on firearms-related issues.
"Prevention, education and research are just as important as passing laws to address the gun-safety issue," Reynolds said.
"These are measures that most people, including many law-enforcement agencies, support," Houston said.
The measure also proclaims May 2019 as Gun Safety and Gun Violence Awareness Month in the city.
The resolution will be sent to the legislators who represent Grandview, Reynolds said.
The gesture is not an empty one, Houston said.
"It does matter because we are standing up and making a statement in solidarity" with those advocating for gun-safety measures in Grandview and beyond, she said.
Grandview has been at the vanguard of adopting public-safety measures, including a 2015 measure to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products in the city to 21 and a 2017 law that requires bicycle riders under age 18 to wear a helmet, Houston said.
"Those ordinances were health-related legislation, and I would put this gun-safety resolution in the same category," she said.
As more communities voice support for gun safety, "our state and national leaders are going to hear the message," Reynolds said.
Although a resolution could be passed on its first reading, council will be asked to vote on the gun-safety measure at its second reading, which would be held April 15 if council holds a mid-month meeting, he said.
The mid-month meeting would be held five days before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shootings, Houston said.
"It's hard to believe it's been 20 years, and we've had so many school shootings take place since then," she said.
Members of the local Students Demand Action group have been invited to speak at the April 1 council meeting, Houston said.