Friday, July 17, 2015

Here's a copy of the filed Complaint and Motion from the suit against the City of Columbia's temporary weapons ban

Today, Brad brought my attention to the suit that has been filed against City of Columbia's temporary weapons ban around the Statehouse grounds.

The backstory is that the City of Columbia was concerned about violence occurring in the wake of the Confederate Flag coming down, that they passed a temporary (30 day) emergency ordinance that prohibited "dangerous weapons" in an area 250 feet extended from the Statehouse grounds. You already cannot carry a firearm on the Statehouse grounds. When I first saw the ordinance, I just kind of rolled my eyes. I can't solve all the world's problems.

Now, someone with even more of a bee in their bonnet than me (hard to imagine, right?) has filed a suit challenging the ban.

The filed pleadings are here.

It's fairly compelling. I think the strongest argument is the fact that SC Code 23-31-510 states:
"No governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision in the State may enact or promulgate any regulation or ordinance that regulates or attempts to regulate the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, or any combination of these things"
Right there, state law clearly says that municipalities don't get to start regulating where you can carry firearms - which is exactly what the City of Columbia did.

I'd probably grant summary judgment on the whole thing on that issue alone. I'll be interested to see what the City's response is. The suit also makes a good argument about the fact that "dangerous weapon" is not defined in the ordinance, nor does the ordinance have any reason for why it is 250 feet and not larger.

The thing is, the City Council just wanted to do something, or look like they were doing something and they didn't really think about the legal issues involved. The problem is that they don't have any downside for passing laws like this. I mean, what does Mayor Benjamin care if the law is ultimately struck down? He doesn't have any downside, personally. It's not like he has to hire a lawyer and defend the suit. He probably doesn't care.

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