Hearing scheduled in Lebanon concealed weapon case

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

A hearing has been scheduled for November on whether the city of Lebanon can allow the carrying of concealed weapons inside the City Building during non-court hours.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Warren County Common Pleas Court by residents David Iannelli, Carol Donovan and Brooke Handley on March 31, 2021, alleges the ordinance conflicts with state laws prohibiting concealed carry in government buildings that contain courtrooms.

Lebanon’s City Council meets in the Lebanon Municipal Court courtroom on the second floor of the City Building, 50 N. Broadway. They also claimed that council exceeded their Home Rule Authority provision in the Ohio Constitution.

The citizens are represented by William Duning and New York-based Everytown Law. The city and City Attorney Mark Yurick are represented by Cincinnati-based attorneys of Rebecca Simpson Heimlich, Christopher Finney, and Curt C. Hartman.

In March 2020, Lebanon’s city council enacted an ordinance that authorizes the concealed carry of handguns within Lebanon’s city building, except during the operation of the Lebanon Municipal Court.

The hearing notice was issued Thursday, a day after the city filed a motion for summary judgment in the case as well as requesting a date for oral argument.

In the filing, Heimlich described the lawsuit as a “meritless action,” and said it was “being driven and paid for by the anti-gun rights group Everytown Law, the legal arm of a larger anti-gun organization, (Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund).”

“As the complaint alleges, however, Ohio law prohibits concealed carry at all times within courthouses and buildings containing courtrooms. The plaintiff residents, who attend or have attended city council proceedings held in the municipal courtroom, are asking the court for a declaration that the ordinance conflicts with state law and an injunction restraining its enforcement,” the filing said.

However, things did not change when Ohio’s Constitutional Carry law went into effect in June because concealed weapons are still not permitted inside the building when Lebanon Municipal Court is open or in session, usually 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The courtroom is a multi-purpose room that is used when the court is in session and as the Council Chamber and meeting room for city boards and commissions, when the law is in force.

In the city’s request for summary judgment, Heimlich said the facts alleged by the residents’ attorneys do not align with the residents’ testimony from depositions taken. Heimlich also claimed that the residents’ attorneys were “shopping for plaintiffs.” She also said the ordinance was within the city’s authority.

“Given their responses, they have shown no material issues for this lawsuit,” Yurick said. “The Supreme Court has said it’s appropriate to protect Second Amendment rights to the fullest.”

Heimlich said, “For the foregoing reasons, no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial, and Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiffs’ claims. Accordingly, Defendants respectfully requests that the Court enter summary judgment in its favor on the Complaint.”

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