Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today announced a number of proposals, including safe storage, red-flag and background check laws, commonsense measures they say will better keep kids and communities safe. The package comes amid debate on House Bill (HB) 178, controversial legislation Democrats say is a solution in search of a problem.
“The answer to gun violence is not simply more guns. The answer is responsible gun ownership with laws that protect the gun owner and non-gun owner alike,” said Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus), the lead Democrat on the House panel hearing HB 178. “If HB 178 passes it will be easier to own a concealed weapon than it is to register to vote. Our children and our law enforcement community deserve better.”
HB 178 would allow anyone aged 21 or older to carry a concealed weapon without a license, without having to meet current concealed carry training requirements and without having to inform police of concealed weapons during a traffic stop.
Some two-thirds of Ohioans say they are worried about the threat of gun violence in their community, at their church or in their child’s school.
Democrats’ package includes the Child Safety Protection Act, which would require firearms to be stored safely and securely out of the reach of minors. A 2018 study by the Giffords Law Center found that 4.6 million American minors live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm.
“As a concealed carry permit holder myself, I support and respect the right to responsibly bear arms,” said Rep. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park). “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s time to act to pass commonsense measures to keep kids and communities safe.”
Under the proposed law, gun owners with children in their household would be required to keep firearms in safe storage, equipped with a tamper-resistant lock or other safety devices that render the weapon inaccessible or inoperable by a minor.
Democrats also announced their version of a red-flag law, allowing temporary court-approved removal of guns from individuals at risk of violence to themselves or others.
“Thousands of students, moms and families across Ohio have stood up to say they want safer schools and safer communities,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland), one of the bill’s joint sponsors. “Instituting a commonsense red flag law is a proven, effective solution to reduce gun violence and make our schools, homes and communities safer.”
“Gun violence is a public health crisis. We owe it to our constituents to aggressively pursue these commonsense solutions that reduce the risk of gun injury and death,” said Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), the red-flag bill’s other joint sponsor. “Otherwise, we are not delivering on our promise to families that you can live, work, go to school and retire in Ohio with safety and security.”
The package also includes a bill requiring background checks for all gun purchases.
“Closing background check loopholes that allows minors, felons, and domestic abusers to have easy access to guns is common sense as far as I’m concerned. The vast majority of Ohioans support expanding background checks, which have proven to reduce violent crime and deter self-harm,” said Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon), who plans to sponsor the bill. “The gun lobby and their allies are trying to force Ohio to turn its back on the thousands of students, moms, and families who want gun safety—not more gun violence.”
Democrats’ commonsense safety proposals follow the recent announcement of the Ohio Promise, Democrat’s legislative agenda to restore the state’s promise of better lives and brighter futures for all Ohioans.
Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about commonsense gun safety:
“According to a March 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, 97 percent of American voters support background checks. States with universal background check requirements have 53 percent fewer firearm suicides per capita than states without these laws. In the last 30 days, I have heard from diverse local constituent groups, such as the Cuyahoga County Police Chiefs Association and the Cleveland chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women asking Columbus to pass commonsense laws on gun safety. Ohio should do better for its citizens.” –Minority Whip Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid)
"I am against House Bill 178. How can we explain to the family of homicide firearm victims that we passed a bill for no background check for guns and no concealed carry weapon class requirement? How can we make sure that police have the necessary information that the person they pulled over has a concealed carry weapon or not? We will not be able to do either if HB 178 passes. We must kill HB 178 before this becomes laws and kills someone in our family—that is how we keep Ohio's Promise.” –Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland)
“Last year, more than 40,000 Americans lost their lives to gun violence. Solutions to prevent gun violence exist—we just need the courage to implement them. We can and must do better to enact commonsense measures to keep our children safe.”–Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati).
“I am in full support of legislation that promotes commonsense gun safety. Having a red flag law will allow us to protect our loved ones when they are most vulnerable to harming themselves. We don’t let our friends drive drunk, so why would we let our family members or close friends have easy access to a gun when they are severely depressed? These commonsense measures are a commitment to Ohio communities and will protect families from tragic loss of loved ones.”–Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville)
"As a safety instructor in the Navy, I understood the importance of taking common sense steps to protect ourselves and families. Widespread Common Sense Gun Safety laws are essential for protecting our children, law enforcement, and communities." –Rep. Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo)
“This common sense evidence-based approach will save lives. It is critical that we protect and support our children.” –Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin)
“We owe it to our constituents to do what we can to keep our children and all Ohioans safe from gun violence. Commonsense safety measures like these, along with closing the gun show loophole and requiring universal background checks, will help us restore the promise of stronger neighborhoods and communities where you can feel safe raising a family.” –Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus)
“It is far too common that I hear of lives lost to gun violence in my district. As legislators, it is our duty to make our state a safer place to live, work and raise a family. We cannot continue to stand by as innocent people die because of a lack of commonsense gun safety measures. It is my hope that with a renewed focus on bipartisanship, we can come together to work on these issues to deliver real results to Ohioans.” –Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton)
"We owe it to Ohio's families and children to ensure that those exercising their second amendment rights are doing so responsibly. The vast majority of Ohioans agree that anyone carrying a deadly firearm should be able to pass a background check and be properly trained. The measures brought forward today by my Democratic colleagues are straightforward steps towards a safer Ohio." - Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst)