Friday, May 25, 2001

Gun store ban legal, judge rules

Bellevue and Dayton sued over ordinances

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The cities of Bellevue and Dayton, Ky., won a court victory Thursday that allows them to keep gun stores out of their business districts.

        Newport gunsmith Peter Garrett had filed suit against both cities, claiming he was prevented from opening shops that sold firearms because of city ordinances, which the suit claimed were in violation of state law.

        In his decision, Judge Leonard Kopowski of Campbell County Circuit Court said the ordinances did not conflict with the portion of the Kentucky Revised Statutes that prevents municipalities from enacting laws that supersede state law concerning the ownership, possession, carrying or transportation of firearms.

        “The zoning ordinances at issue do not impose any limitations, requirements or conditions upon the manner in which one conveys firearms, owns firearms, carries firearms or transports firearms” in the two cities, the judge's decision said. He said the ordinances merely relate to the location of a business that engages in these activities, recognizing that the business and its customers may transfer, own, possess, carry or transfer firearms without interference in the cities.

        Mr. Garrett, who has operated a gunsmith business on Monmouth Street for some 25 years and also sells some firearms at the shop, said he and his attorney, Bruce McClure, intend to appeal the decision.

        “We think an appeals court will have a different view of our argument regarding the ordinances,” he said.

        Judge Kopowski said in the decision that the Kentucky Legislature “did not intend for KRS 65.870 to restrict a municipality's authority to enact zoning ordinances affecting the location of gun shops.”

        Bellevue and Dayton passed ordinances prohibiting gun stores from the business districts following the 1999 shooting deaths of 12 students at Columbine High School in Colorado.


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