Dayton shooting: Many Ohioans have access to firearms

The Dayton Daily News has examined state gun laws and has found that many Ohioans have easy access to firearms and accessories.

In recent weeks, possible language to require background checks for most gun sales has moved closer to a possible place on a 2020 ballot, as Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said last month that an early round of petition signatures was certified.

Yost said last month that he approved Ohioans For Gun Safety’s proposed summary ballot proposal language as a “a fair and truthful representation of the proposed law.” Yost did not endorse the measure, as is typical in these situations; he only approved the language.

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County elections officials also certified that the organizing group for the measure collected more than the 1,000 valid petition signatures, Yost’s office has said.

While Ohio political leaders respond to the Dayton shooting, they have shown little appetite for restricting access to powerful weapons.

A dozen firearms bills are pending in the Ohio General Assembly -- evenly split between expanding gun rights and restricting them, according to the Buckeye Firearms Association, a pro-gun group. One bill calls for allowing people to carry concealed weapons without permits, background checks or training.

Gov. Mike DeWine, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in the 2018 governor's race, has said he supports a "Red Flag Law" for Ohio. Red flag laws, also known as extreme protection orders, allow police or close family members to get a court order to remove firearms from someone who appears to be a danger to themselves or others.

Ohioans for Gun Safety is currently collecting signatures for a proposed law that would mandate background checks on nearly all gun sales, including those between private parties. The group needs to gather 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters to present the citizen-initiated statute to the Ohio General Assembly. If lawmakers decline to adopt it, the group then must collect another 132,887 signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot.

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Some key takeaways from recent Dayton Daily News coverage of Ohio gun laws has found that teachers in many schools are armed. In April 2017, the Dayton Daily News reported that 32 teachers and staff at Mad River Local Schools are part of such a program to allow some teachers to have firearms in school.

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The newspaper also found that people can take their guns to work A state law that went into effect in 2017 prohibits companies from banning handguns on company property, meaning concealed carry permit holders can keep guns in their locked car.

Also, weapons sometimes called “assault rifles” can be bought without a background check of the buyer. The Parkland, Fla. shooter legally purchased the AR-15 — often referred to as an “assault rifle” — after passing a background check despite having mental health issues.

Since 2015, 6,784 people died by firearm, including 4,158 suicides, according to Ohio Department of Health data.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data, for the year 2017, there were 1,589 deaths due to firearms in Ohio that year. Of that number, 918 were deemed suicides and 621 were homicides.