The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Last year, lawmakers passed legislation allowing Ohioans to carry of an array of concealed, non-firearm weapons like butterfly knives, switchblades, springblades and billy clubs.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed legislation ensuring that Ohio’s cities don’t try to pass legislation on the local level that would limit this newfound right.
Current law, enacted earlier this year, allows for the manufacturing, sale and possession of brass knuckles, cestuses, billy clubs, blackjacks, sandbags, switchblade knives, springblade knives, gravity knives, and similar weapons.
Senate Bill 156, a form of so called “preemption” legislation, blocks cities from enacting any laws related to transporting possessing, carrying, selling, transferring, buying, gifting or using a knife.
The legislation passed the Senate in a 23-7 vote along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said in committee the legislation “builds upon” the knife rights legislation passed last year. She said it averts a “confusing” patchwork of laws where a knife or sword might be legal for concealed carry in one city but illegal in the next. She said some of these weapons, like boxcutters, are work tools, and the law shouldn’t prohibit workers from pocketing them.
A similar “preemption” law exists on the book for guns in Ohio, which has for years blocked cities from imposing any legislation to limit gun sales or possession within their borders. Earlier this year, an appellate court ruled Cincinnati had no right, under the preemption law, to enact legislation that prohibited the use of “bump stocks” — attachments to rifles that increase their rate of fire.
Earlier this year, Gov. Mike DeWine signed similarly structured legislation blocking cities from banning or limiting new natural gas hookups. Lawmakers also slipped into the state budget legislation that prevents cities from taxing the use of disposable plastic bags.
The legislation is vulnerable to a challenge under the Home Rule Amendment to the Ohio Constitution, which generally grants cities the rights to self-govern, according to the Legislative Service Commission, a nonpartisan body that analyzes policy for lawmakers.
Republicans rebuffed the concern and passed the bill, which now goes to the House for consideration.