Following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton on August 3 and 4, Ohio lawmakers rushed to introduce eight gun bills aimed at regulating sales of firearms, including universal background checks and red flag laws.
On August 7, State Rep. Beth Liston (D-21) introduced House Bill 315 to require federally licensed firearms dealers to provide information about suicide prevention whenever a firearm is purchased.
“Over 50 percent of gun deaths in Ohio are the result of firearm assisted suicide,” she said. “I want to ensure that all gun owners are aware of the risks associated with firearms and are able to make informed decisions that are best suited for themselves and their families.”
The bill aims to educate gun buyers about the relationship between firearm ownership and suicide. She says the bill is a “simple and straightforward way to make sure gun owners are educated and informed about the often overlooked link between firearms and suicide.”
That same day, State Reps. Allison Russo (D-24) and Bride Rose Sweeney (D-C14) introduced House Bill 316 to allow family members, household members, or law enforcement officers to file for a court order temporarily preventing individuals considered to be an imminent danger to themselves or others from possessing firearms. This is a companion bill to Senate Bill 19.
“In many instances of gun violence, there were clear warning signs the shooter posed a serious risk of injuring themselves or others with a firearm,” Russo said. “Extreme risk protection orders save lives by 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.”
Extreme risk protection orders are also known as “red flag” laws. Saying that protection from gun violence is something Ohioans want, Rep. Sweeney called this “common sense legislation” that should receive hearings as soon as possible.
Also on August 7, State Reps. Phil Robinson (D-6) and Rep. Adam Miller (D-17), introduced House Bill 317, titled the “Protect Law Enforcement Act,” or PLEA, to require universal background checks for all firearms transactions. This is a companion bill to Senate Bill 63.
Current federal law already requires licensed dealers to perform a background check at the time of purchase. PLEA would hold unlicensed gun sellers in Ohio to the same standards and would make Ohio a point of transfer state. That means private sellers would have to do a background check and complete transfers at either a federally licensed dealer or with their local law enforcement who already conduct background checks.
“PLEA is a plea to support law enforcement’s efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands,” Robinson said. “It is a plea to help keep children, students and families safe. It is a plea for the commonsense gun safety reform that Ohioans want.”
Miller is also the co-sponsor of House Bill 319 with Rep. Thomas West (D-49), which would restore local authority to regulate firearm-related conduct.
The bill would repeal Ohio Revised Code Section 9.68 along with the new version of ORC 9.68 that is scheduled to take effect on December 28. That code section deals with the right to bear arms and says that Ohio will have one set of gun laws instead of a patchwork of laws from city to city. The law also “preempts, supersedes, and declares null and void any such further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process” that any local municipality might have imposed.
Separately, West introduced House Bill 320 which changes the amount of time a dealer must wait for the results of the background check before transferring a firearm. Current federal law says the transfer can happen after three days. This bill says the dealer must wait 30 days.
In the Senate, three bills were introduced:
- Senate Bill 182 which raises to 21 the minimum age to purchase a firearm,
- Senate Bill 183 which is a companion to the House bill requiring universal background checks, and
- Senate Bill 184 which is a companion to the House’s “red flag” bill.
All three bills are re-introductions of previously submitted legislation but now reflect the bi-partisan sponsorship of Rep. Peggy Lehner (R-6).
“We might never know how many tragedies will be averted by this legislation but I have no doubt that these bills will save lives,” Lehner said. “The time for this legislation is long overdue and I pray that this legislature honors those whose lives have already been taken by passing it swiftly.”
Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-9) is the co-sponsor of S.B. 182 and 183. Sen. Sandra Williams (D-21) is the co-sponsor of S.B. 184.
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