THE Ohio Supreme Court has agreed with gun-rights activists and state lawmakers that just one set of laws should govern the ownership and use of firearms across the state. Be careful what you wish for.
In 2006, the General Assembly, over Republican Gov. Bob Taft's veto, declared that gun owners should not have to keep track of varying local laws while they traveled through Ohio. Instead, lawmakers enacted one gun law for the entire state.
The City of Cleveland challenged the law, arguing that it intruded on home rule - the principle in the Ohio Constitution that allows local governments to make their own laws, as long as they don't conflict with state law. Last week, the high court disagreed, ruling that the state gun law trumped all local ordinances. That ruling is especially troubling to Ohio's urban centers, including Toledo, where gun violence is a continuing concern.
Last week's ruling is the latest example of how lawmakers and courts have become increasingly weapons-friendly in recent years. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2008 - and expanded that decision last June - that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an individual right.
Federal law now allows concealed weapons in national parks. Rulings in various states permit concealed weapons in places where alcohol is served as well as in city parks. The result has been a series of victories for pro-gun groups that want to arm everyone from college students to park visitors - all in the name of promoting personal safety.
One-size-fits-all gun laws don't make sense. Most law enforcement officials disagree with the notion that an armed population makes everyone safer. Ordinances that are reasonable in rural areas, where crime is low and hunting is popular, may not be appropriate in cities where gun violence is a pressing concern.
The other problem with the Ohio decision is the violence it does to home rule. Lawmakers and judges who talk about home rule as if it's sacrosanct too often abandon it in practice.
Either local control is a value worth protecting or it isn't. Increasingly, the answer is that local control takes a back seat when deep-pocketed lobbyists want something.
The gun lobby might keep in mind as well that what goes around comes around. If gun violence in Ohio escalates, future legislatures could enact more-restrictive laws that also would ignore local needs.
Should that happen, shooting holes in home rule won't look like such a good idea.40.19033 -82.66947 THE Ohio Supreme Court has agreed with gun-rights activists and state lawmakers that just one set of laws should govern the ownership and use of firearms across the state. Be careful what you wish for.