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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "Appeals court upholds ruling Hammond gun ordinances"

Friday's NFP COA opinion in Samuel G. Dykstra and Michelle L. Bahus v. The City of Hammond (NFP) is the subject of a story today by Chelsea Schneider Kirk in the NWI Times. Quotes from the end of the story:

In 2011, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. issued an executive order directing the Hammond Police Department and city employees not to enforce an ordinance that banned guns in city buildings.

The order came after the Hammond City Council voted down an ordinance to bring city code into compliance with the new state law. At the time, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns had recommended local governments repeal gun regulations on their books.

McDermott said appealing the city's ordinances would have been a bad move, especially in light of recent gun violence in the nation. He said the appeals court ruling reaffirms his actions and those of the City Council.

“I'm proud of the way we reacted,” McDermott said. “Basically the (National Rifle Association) through Guy Relford is trying to bully the city of Hammond, and I won't stand for it. Make no mistake about it. The NRA is lock, stock and barrel behind this lawsuit.”

Now from the beginning of the story:
HAMMOND | The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a ruling Friday that two area residents are not adversely impacted by city gun restrictions now voided by state law.

Samuel Dykstra, who lives in Highland and attends college in Hammond, and Michelle Bahus, of Hammond, had sued the city, alleging their rights were violated because gun regulations are still present in city code. * * *

“We feel like the city of Hammond, and Mayor (Thomas) McDermott specifically, intentionally want to leave the ordinances on the books, so they influence people's behavior,” said Guy Relford, the residents' attorney.

The appeals court found that, regardless of whether the ordinances were still in code, the restrictions were voided by a 2011 state law that essentially bars local governments from regulating firearms except in courtrooms.

The ordinances had restricted guns from city buildings or at any city board or commission meeting.

The appeals court stated the city had not adopted or enforced an ordinance in violation of the state law since it took effect in July 2011. The law was meant to curb future gun restrictions or future enforcement of ordinances in place prior to the state law taking effect, the ruling states.

The appeals court ruling sides with the decision of Lake Superior Court Judge Jeffery Dywan, who rejected the lawsuit because state law had voided the local ordinances.

For background, see this ILB entry from Sept. 4, 2011, and this entry from Sept. 27, 2011.

Judge Vaidik's opinion from last Friday concludes:

The Ordinances were in effect before July 1, 2011, indicating that the City of Hammond could not have adopted the Ordinances at a time in which they would be in violation of Indiana Code section 35-47-11.1-2. The Firearm Owners have also failed to designate any evidence that the City of Hammond made any attempt to enforce the void ordinances; on the contrary, the only evidence presented was that the mayor issued two executive orders prohibiting the enforcement of the void ordinances. Appellant’s App. p. 102-03. Therefore, the Firearm Owners have not shown that they have been “adversely affected by an ordinance . . . adopted or enforced” in violation of Indiana Code section 35-47-11.1-2, so they have failed to show that they have any valid claim under Indiana Code section 35-47-11.1-5.

We hold that the trial court did not err in denying the Firearm Owners’ motion for summary judgment and granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Hammond.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 17, 2013 04:34 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions