COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new bill has been introduced at the Ohio Statehouse, which aims to bolster Ohioans' 2nd amendment right. House Bill 51 states if the federal government were to pass certain gun laws that are considered restrictive and the law meets certain criteria under HB 51, local police departments cannot enforce that law in Ohio.
Law enforcement in Ohio enforces all gun laws under the state firearms control law at this time. This includes laws passed at the federal level. Sponsors of House Bill 51 want to stop that enforcement and remove all reference to "Federal Firearms Law."
However, critics say this bill will make it harder for state officials to do their jobs.
Republican State Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Cortland, is a sponsor of House Bill 51. He said this proposed bill is backed by the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says unless otherwise specified in the constitution, all powers not given to the federal government belong to the state government by default.
"The Ohio law enforcement agencies cannot be compelled to enforce unconstitutional federal gun control laws, executive orders, or agency rule interpretations," Loychik said.
Loychik told lawmakers in committee this bill would separate federal and state-enforced gun laws.
Meanwhile, some question whether or not it is a violation of the supremacy clause. Loychik has argued that HB 51 is not a violation of the supremacy clause.
"The supremacy clause states that federal constitutional law usually takes precedence over state constitutional laws. House Bill 51 does not challenge that. It simply states that the state of Ohio will not help the federal government agencies enforce their gun control agenda," Loychik said.
Spectrum News Legal Analyst Rory Riley-Topping said if this bill were to be signed into law it could block enforcement of federal regulations, like the "Ban on Bump Stocks" in the state of Ohio.
"There's this theory, and it stems from another theory. It's called the compact theory," said Riley-Topping, "which basically says that the states made a compact with each other to form the federal government."
The Policy Director at Gifford's Law Center to Prevent Gun violence told Spectrum News they are concerned this bill could impact domestic violence victims.
He released this statement, which says in part:
"This bill is dangerous and radical and it would be a death sentence for victims of domestic violence in particular. The sponsors could have called this the 'Guns for domestic abusers act' among many other things, it would seek to actively stop state and local public officials and employees in Ohio from using their resources to protect most victims of domestic violence from armed domestic abusers."
Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan junior is the executive director of the Ohio Council of Churches which has teamed up with the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
He said legislation like this could potentially lead to more crime.
"I want to see our lawmakers come together across party lines with the priority of gun violence prevention on their minds," said Sullivan Jr.
Meanwhile, Dean Rieck the executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Institute, who said there is precedent for this kind of proposal and it’s worked in the past.
"Look at how it compares to things like marijuana or to immigration, for example. Marijuana is illegal across the board at the federal level here in Ohio," Rieck said. "We've chosen to legalize it for medical purposes. So in Ohio, we simply don't enforce marijuana if you have a medical marijuana card. So this bill would do something very similar with firearms. If the federal government has laws that we do not agree with here in the state, the state would simply not enforce those laws."
Riley-Topping said that courts could ultimately shut down this argument, and some previous rulings have struck down attempted nullification of federal law.
However, she said there have been a lot of challenges that the Supreme Court has ultimately overturned.
In the first testimony at committee Representative Bill Seitz questioned whether Ohio could allow states to comply with federal law.
He told committee lawmakers he's OK with not making them follow federal law that falls under certain criteria.
However, believes Ohioans should be able to have the option if needed.