Dayton shooting: Democratic leader calls for U.S. Senate to deal with gun violence

In the wake of a mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District that killed nine people and injured dozens, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for the Senate to return for summer break to deal with gun violence.

“One awful event after another. (Senate Majority) Leader McConnell must call the Senate back for an emergency session to put the House-passed universal background checks legislation on the Senate floor for debate and a vote immediately.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, supports Schumer’s call.

In Dayton, Brown said “Congress needs to do something.”

“I hope that Sen. McConnell would bring the Senate back tomorrow and pass the background check bill and send it to the president. The president must sign it, period,” Brown said on CNN earlier Sunday. “We could pass the background check bill in an afternoon, and people could get back on a plane and go back to their homes and their children and grandchildren and whatever they’re doing in August in the evening. We could do it that fast.”

Sen. Portman issued a statement, but did not directly address Schumer’s request for the Senate to return.

“These senseless acts of violence must stop. While we are still learning more about the details of this tragedy in Montgomery County, we are praying for the victims and their families and thank the officers who responded so quickly and bravely. I am talking to local leaders and law enforcement officials this morning. First and foremost, let’s get all the facts and help the community heal,” Portman said.

When asked during a press conference in Dayton Sunday about finding legislative solutions to gun violence, Portman said “this requires a comprehensive approach.”

Portman says he saw workers cleaning blood off the sidewalks when he visited the scene in the Oregon District. He says it's an unspeakable tragedy and the discussion needs to include not just policy changes, but issues such as mental health supports.

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said new laws would not have stopped the shooter.

Turner said the gun bill passed by the House of Representatives would not have prevented the shooting. Turner said the magazine used by the gunman was already illegal.

“This is an unbelievable amount of evil,” Turner said.

Ohio voters may decide on gun background checks

Ohio voters could weigh in requiring universal background checks for gun purchases if a citizens group collects enough signatures to get the issue on the statewide ballot.

Ohioans for Gun Safety, a grassroots group, is launching a campaign to gather 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters to present a citizen-initiated statute to the Ohio General Assembly.

The proposed law would mandate background checks for firearms sales, including private party sales and purchases made at gun shows.

Federally licensed firearms dealers, who would be tapped to conduct the background checks, would be allowed to charge a reasonable fee.

Licensed dealers are required under federal law to conduct background checks to make sure the buyer doesn’t have a criminal record, mental health history or other disqualifying condition. But private parties and unlicensed sellers aren’t required to conduct those checks.

The proposed law would provide exceptions for transfers between family members, transfers of antiques or relics and temporary transfers for hunting or repairs of the gun.

Ohio lawmakers have expanded gun rights over the past decade and have eschewed calls for gun restrictions.

Dennis Willard, spokesman for Ohioans for Gun Safety, said the proposal is narrowly tailored to address a gun control measure that has wide public support.

Multiple polls show that roughly 90 percent of Americans favor mandatory background checks for gun purchases.

Here is how the citizen-initiated statute process works:

After the first batch of signatures is collected, the General Assembly has 120 days to adopt the proposed law, adopt an amended version or ignore it.

If it’s not adopted as is, petitioners may collect another 132,887 signatures from voters who didn’t sign the original petition and place the measure on the statewide ballot.

Willard said the group aims to put the issue before voters in either November 2020 or November 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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