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House Democrats outline commonsense gun safety package

Say reforms would help keep Ohio's kids and communities safe
April 19, 2021
Phillip M. Robinson, Jr. News

House Democratic lawmakers today unveiled a package of commonsense gun safety measures they say will work to curb gun violence and save lives in Ohio. The call comes amid a spike in gun violence and Ohio’s new no duty to retreat bill taking effect earlier this month.

“Ohioans have spoken loudly and clearly that we need to do something to end gun violence. Democrats are listening to you, the people of Ohio who overwhelmingly support commonsense solutions to keep our kids and communities safe. In the 20 months since Dayton, shootings have gone up, not down. We need reform now to ensure the promise of safety and security for all Ohioans,” said Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). 

Democrats’ commonsense gun safety priorities include legislation that would:

  • Require universal background checks on all gun purchases,
  • Implement extreme risk protection orders,
  • Require safe, secure storage of firearms in homes with minors,
  • Allow Ohio citizens to decide what gun safety measures work for their communities,
  • Repeal no duty to retreat.

Democrats say their gun safety package contains tested, proven and popular strategies to reduce gun violence. Some 90 percent of Ohioans support enacting more commonsense gun safety measures like universal background checks.

“We need to keep guns out of the hands of minors, felons, criminals, and domestic abusers. This is what Ohioans want. More than 90 percent of Ohioans support universal background checks for gun purchases and 87 percent of Ohio gun owners support background checks. Closing the loophole in the background check process will help reduce violent crime, deter self-harm, and support law enforcement’s efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), who is sponsoring HB 259, the Protect Law Enforcement Act or PLEA, that would require background checks on all gun purchases.

A 2019 analysis found that states that require a background check on all gun sales have homicide rates 10 percent lower than states without them. State laws requiring background checks for all handgun sales are associated with lower firearm homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and lower firearm trafficking.

“In many instances of gun violence, there were clear warning signs that the shooter posed a serious risk to themselves or others. Extreme risk protection orders save lives by providing a clear process for intervention and giving families and law enforcement time to quickly intervene before those warning signs escalate into tragedies, while also respecting Second Amendment and due process rights,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), a sponsor of HB 257, the Extreme Risk Protection Orders Act.

So far, 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted extreme-risk protection, or “red flag,” laws. A study found that in the first ten years of Indiana’s version of red flag, the state saw a 7.5 percent decrease in firearm suicides.

Democrats Monday also announced the reintroduction of the Child Access Prevention Tax Credit, which would require safe, secure storage of firearms in homes with minors and offer a tax credit for those purchasing safety locks.

“Our country is hurting right now due to various forms of senseless violence. As lawmakers, we have an obligation to take meaningful steps to address this. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance the Child Access Prevention bill and other commonsense legislation that will make Ohio safer for everyone,” said Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), one of the safe storage bill’s joint sponsors.

In addition, Democrats highlighted their bill to restore local authority to ensure gun safety, which would allow citizens to decide what kind of gun safety measures works best for their communities.

“Restoring local authority to allow citizens to decide what kind of gun safety measures make sense for their community empowers everyday Ohioans to help keep their kids and communities safe. This legislation will give cities across Ohio the ability to develop unique, community-driven solutions to end gun violence that is unfortunately on the rise across Ohio,” said Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland), one of the bill’s sponsors.

Democrats Monday also spoke out forcefully against Ohio’s no duty to retreat law, which passed in Dec. 2020 and took effect April 6. The law permits the use of deadly force by individuals who believe their lives are endangered anywhere in the state. The measure was added as a last-minute amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 175 in Dec. 2020, and the governor signed the bill into law even after suggesting he would veto the extreme legislation.

“Shoot first is dangerous legislation that makes us all less safe This same law in other states has led to an increase in legally-justified killings of Black people and a double-digit increase in homicides. Ohioans came together and urged us to do something after the Dayton shooting. This is the furthest thing from doing something. In fact, it will lead to more—not less—gun violence,” said Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton), who introduced HB 38 to repeal Ohio’s Shoot First law.

“My kids were home and my family is still healing from our shared trauma. Tragically, our story is one of many. More than 1,500 people die by gun violence in our state every year. But there are solutions to this senseless violence. And in my case, an extreme risk law very well could have saved two lives,” said Shannon Daniel-Waitas, gun violence survivor and volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a national organization devoted to ending gun violence. She joined the Democratic lawmakers Monday to urge action on their commonsense gun safety measures.   

 A copy of today’s press conference can be found HERE