Judge authorizes trial against Lebanese order allowing guns in council chamber to proceed
A taxpayer lawsuit challenging a Lebanese ordinance that allows holders of state-issued concealed port permits to bring handguns into the city building may go ahead, a Warren County judge said earlier this week.
Common Plea Judge Timothy Tepe dismissed the city’s request to dismiss the lawsuit in a ruling on Monday, court documents show.
Lebanon’s municipal council promulgated the ordinance in March 2020, allowing permit holders to carry guns in the city building during council meetings and other periods. The city previously had a rule that specifically prohibited the carrying of weapons in the council chamber.
Three residents of Lebanon – Carol Donovan, David Iannelli and Brooke Handley – filed a lawsuit against the city of Lebanon on March 31, alleging conflicting ordinances with State Law, which prohibits concealed transport in government buildings that contain courtrooms.
Residents are represented by Everytown Law, the litigation arm of the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Lebanon-based law firm Gray & Duning.
“The potential presence of concealed handguns poses a risk of physical harm and armed intimidation, especially in a context where vigorous discussions on hot issues can provoke anger,” the complaint read.
However, city lawyers argue that the order does not violate state law, as concealed transport is still prohibited while the city court is in office, according to the motion to dismiss filed in May.
In documents, city attorneys also said that the residents’ lawsuit “is not brought to defend a public interest but, instead, is an effort to address and alleviate personal fears, stresses or anxieties that the plaintiffs claim to feel knowing that duly authorized persons may carry concealed weapons at city council meetings and the impact of their presence or participation in those meetings. “
In his decision, Tepe wrote that the residents’ personal interest in the case does not necessarily diminish their claim to defend the public interest.
“There is no doubt that the order in question affects the self-interest of the plaintiffs,” Tepe wrote. “… There is no doubt that the ordinance also affects the public interest as it controls when and where authorized persons can carry concealed firearms.”
The city is sticking to its order and Tepe’s decision “is not a decision on the merits of the case or the order at issue,” said Rebecca Simpson Heimlich, associate at Finney law firm which represents the city of Lebanon, in a statement. statement to the Enquirer.
âWe are confident that the ordinance is legal and does not conflict with state law,â Heimlich said. “… There is no law in Ohio prohibiting the concealed carrying of weapons during city council meetings.”
The Enquirer was unable to reach lawyers for the residents Thursday evening.
“The residents we represent are only asking the city to comply with state laws aimed at ensuring the security of courthouses and similar government buildings,” said Len Kamdang, director of strategy and trials for the litigation for Everytown Law, in a March press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit. âPeople should be able to participate in the democratic process without being threatened with violence or intimidation. “
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Judge rejects petition to dismiss legal action against Lebanon