Some Butler County lawmakers don’t see gun reform as the answer to gun violence

Glen Willians, the owner of the business on South Yellow Springs Street where six people were shot early Wednesday morning, walks out of his business after surveying the damage. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Glen Willians, the owner of the business on South Yellow Springs Street where six people were shot early Wednesday morning, walks out of his business after surveying the damage. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Rep. Hall, Sen. Lang want to see harsher penalties for those who break the law, not restrictions that impact law-abiding citizens.

Gov. Mike DeWine wants Ohio lawmakers to give law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the tools to deal with those legally not permitted to possess a firearm “and separate them from society.”

Though some Butler County lawmakers condemn the Wednesday mass shooting in Springfield, they don’t see more gun reform as the answer.

The Republican governor was very clear in a message responding to the most recent mass shooting in the state, where six people were wounded by gunfire, including one seriously. Two people connected to the shooting are in custody, according to law enforcement.

In this file photo from Aug. 6, 2019, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pauses while speaking at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)
In this file photo from Aug. 6, 2019, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pauses while speaking at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)

Credit: Joshua A. Bickel

Credit: Joshua A. Bickel

“What happened early (Wednesday) morning is a tragedy,” DeWine said. “Springfield, gun violence there continues, but it is not unique to Springfield. We see this in cities across our state.”

There have been 247 mass shootings in the country this year, including Wednesday’s shooting in Springfield. The Springfield shooting is the 11th mass shooting in Ohio, according to news reports. More than 60 people have been shot in those Ohio incidents, and including nearly 20 deaths.

Multiple gunshots were reported at 1:48 a.m. Wednesday on South Yellow Springs Street in the Clark County capital city. While emergency crews were en route, law enforcement received more reports that multiple people had been shot.

DeWine called the Springfield shooting a tragedy but one that is not unique to the city 65 miles northeast of Butler County.

“We see this in cities across our state,” the governor said.

Since DeWine took office in 2019, he’s asked lawmakers on multiple occasions to approve reforms.

“I have been asking the General Assembly to pass a bill,” he said. “I’m asking the General Assembly again, take this action in this regard, protect our police, protect our communities, protect innocent victims. Give the police the tools, give the prosecutor the tools, give the judges, at their discretion, the tools to deal with these individuals and separate them from society.”

Ohio Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp.
Ohio Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp.

Credit: Provide

Credit: Provide

Freshman lawmaker and Ohio Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., said he “strongly condemn(s) this act of horrific violence in our state. Like Gov. DeWine, I believe those who commit crimes with a gun should face stronger penalties.”

However, he’s not on board with more gun reform.

“It is not my belief that enacting more gun restrictions would prevent individuals who already choose to break the law and obtain firearms illegally from possessing a gun,” Hall said.

Ohio Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.
Ohio Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Ohio Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., said while his focus is on the state’s two-year operating budget discussions in the Finance Committee, he said he “would review any future legislation through the lens of protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and holding those who break the law accountable.”

But it’s a Catch-22 because Lang said “any time we want to make it tougher on the bad guys, we ultimately end up making it tougher on the good guys, and we don’t stop the bad guys at all. It’s very frustrating.”

He said he cannot see himself “supporting anything that would make it tougher on the good guys.”

2021 MASS SHOOTINGS IN OHIO

June 2: Springfield: Six people were injured in a shooting at a celebration of life.

May 31: Garfield Heights: One person was killed and four injured in a shooting during a block party.

May 24: West Jefferson: Four people were killed at an apartment complex in the Columbus suburb.

May 23: Youngstown: Three people were killed, and eight injured in a shooting at a bar.

May 22: Columbus: A teenager was killed and five teenagers injured in a shooting a Bicentennial Park.

May 16: Cincinnati: One person was killed and three injured at a nightclub.

May 2: Columbus: Four people were wounded in a shooting at a restaurant.

April 17: Columbus: One person was killed and five wounded at a shooting during a vigil for a homicide victim.

March 28: Cleveland: Seven people were injured in a shooting at a private motorcycle club.

March 22: Cleveland: Two people were killed and two injured in an early morning shooting at a restaurant.

Feb. 28: Cincinnati: Three people were killed (not including the suspect later killed by police in Detroit) and two injured in related shootings in the Cincinnati suburb of Evanston.

Source: Multiple national and local news outlets