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Willis Introduce New Legislation to Curb Violent Crime

May 7, 2024
Bernard Willis News

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COLUMBUS – State Representatives Bernie Willis (R-Springfield) and Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) have introduced legislation to increase the penalty for the use of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime. This legislation increases penalties for the most dangerous offenders in our communities without changing any gun laws that would affect law-abiding gun owners.

The Repeat Offender Act will generally increase penalties for violent offenders in possession of a firearm while they are under disability for previous felony convictions. The legislation will also create a weapons-specific criminal enhancement for repeat offenders who continue to violate their weapon restriction.

“As a staunch second amendment supporter I will continue to fight for Ohioans right to legal gun ownership,” said Willis. “Unfortunately, there are a few that don’t care about the law and continue to carry out acts of gun violence even when they are not legally allowed to possess such weapons. These individuals must be stopped and this is why I have introduced this legislation to increase their time behind bars.” 

“It’s no secret that I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but there is a big difference between a lawful gun owner and someone who commits a crime with a firearm.” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “The problem is the people that commit crimes with guns. This bill is surgically targeted toward not owners but actors that use guns for illegal reasons. This will make our cities safer, it will take the bad guys with guns off the street and not affect the rights of law abiding citizens.”

“We have a small group of individuals in our communities who are committing a disproportionate amount of the violent crime, and doing it with firearms,” said Williams. “This legislation gives communities the tools they need to address this problem.”

Currently in Ohio, the penalty for possessing a weapon under disability is a felony violation of the third degree. This legislation will decrease the first violation to a fourth-degree felony for non-violent offenders. However, if a person has a previous conviction for weapons under disability and a violent criminal history, they will be eligible for the newly created five-year weapons enhancement penalty to be added to the potential 12-year sentence for the originally charged second degree felony. 

The legislation, introduced today, is awaiting a House committee assignment.