State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today issued a statement on the state legislature’s duty to work together to address senseless gun violence and keep all Ohioans safe and secure in the wake of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio this past weekend:

“The first, best step that we can take in Ohio to curtail senseless gun violence is to close all background check loopholes,” said Smith. “Today in Columbus, I agreed to co-sponsor Democratic priority legislation: Extreme Risk Protection Order (Russo, Sweeney), the High-Capacity Magazine Ban (Weinstein), and legislation Closing the Background Check Loophole (Robinson).

“Though more than 90 percent of the American public supports background checks for all gun sales, a dangerous and deadly loophole in federal gun laws still exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check whatsoever before selling a firearm,” added Smith. “Although federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers, it does not require unlicensed sellers to do so. We need to close this loophole in Ohio.”

Data and research confirm that Universal Background Check laws are effective and save lives. In 1994, Connecticut began requiring anyone purchasing a gun to be licensed as part of the background check process. Over the next 10 years, Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate dropped 40 percent, a reduction not seen in comparable state or nationally. Over those same years, non-firearm homicides remained virtually unchanged.

In 2007, Missouri repealed its licensing and background check requirement, resulting in a 25 percent increase in firearm homicides and an overall 14 percent increase in murders over the subsequent five years. The rise in gun deaths is directly attributable to the repeal of the licensing and background check requirement as the firearm homicide rate during the same period did not increase in adjoining states nor did the national average rise.

A 2017 Russel Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences’ study assesses the impact of Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act (FSA) of 2013—these findings are consistent with the theory that the FSA reduces the diversion of handguns into the underground market.

“I have always been ready to do something on this topic,” said Smith. “I am waiting for Governor DeWine and my GOP colleagues to join me so Toledo, Ohio’s 8th House district, or any other part of Ohio does not become the next Dayton. The time to do nothing has passed. We need to do something now.”

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