Ohio Democratic lawmakers propose ‘commonsense’ gun safety laws

Ohio Statehouse.
Ohio Statehouse.

Ohio House Democratic lawmakers on Monday introduce a series of gun safety laws that they referred to as “commonsense” during a press conference.

Saying mass shootings in Ohio and across the country have not declined since Dayton’s Oregon District massacre in 2019, the proposed laws will ensure the promise of safety and security for all Ohioans, said Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron. Democrats must step up now because Gov. Mike DeWine and other Republicans have failed to pass meaningful laws to end gun violence, she said.

“Instead of working to end gun violence, (Republicans) have passed laws that would actually make the problem worse,” Sykes said. “That’s why democrats are once again stepping up to offer commonsense packaging, to deliver on the promise of safety and security to all Ohioans.”

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The Democrats’ gun safety package would require universal background checks on all gun purchases, implement extreme risk protection orders, require safe and secure storage of firearms in homes with minors and allow Ohio residents to decide which gun safety measures work for their communities.

In addition, the lawmakers proposed repealing the no duty to retreat ― dubbed “stand your ground” ― law, which was passed on April 6. They say it allows some to shoot people simply because they feel threatened, and it disproportionately affects people of color.

Joe Eaton, spokesman for the pro-gun Buckeye Fire Arm Association disagrees, saying Democrats are spreading false information about the law. The legislation does not give people the right to use deadly force simply because they feel threatened, he said.

The Ohio Democrats are introducing their gun safety package after a series of mass shootings across the country in recent weeks. There have been 45 mass shootings since March 16, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Six of them occurred in the past six days, and the deadliest was at an Indianapolis FedEx facility. Nine people, including the gunman, died and seven people were injured.

State Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton CONTRIBUTED
State Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton CONTRIBUTED

The deadliest mass shooting in Dayton’s history happened in 2019, when a gunman killed nine and injured 37 people in the city’s historic Oregon District. Nearly two years after the massacre, people are still telling lawmakers to “Do something,” said Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton.

“There’s an urgent need for change now, and the only way we will get that change is through action,” he said. “The (proposed bills) can help prevent another mass shooting from happening in our state, just like the one in Dayton.”

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Similar versions of the gun laws the Democrats are proposing are currently on the books in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago and in California. They’ve done little to curb gun violence, and Eaton said it would not reduce violent crimes in Ohio.

“I think they would make Ohio a more dangerous place if they became law,” he said.

The state’s current gun laws are lax, and they’ve done little to protect Ohioans, and people want better legislation that will protect them, Sykes said.

“Ohioans have spoken loudly and clearly that we need to do something to end gun violence,” she said. “Democrats are listening to you, the people of Ohio who overwhelmingly support commonsense solutions to keep our kids and communities safe.”

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