Ohio Senate Democrats push gun bills they call “commonsense” proposals to curb crime

Gun Rights

Democratic state senators say gun violence is out of control in Ohio and the rest of the country. And they want their fellow lawmakers in the Ohio Legislature to do something to reduce it by passing some gun safety bills they have proposed.

But the bills are a long shot in the Republican-dominated legislature.

For Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), this issue is personal.

“I live on the south side of Columbus and almost every day I hear gunfire near my home,” Craig said.

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Craig, along with Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), said gun violence is out of control.

“I want you to think just a minute. That’s our children. That’s a father. That’s a niece, nephew,” Craig said.

The bills Democrats are supporting

SB 187– would harmonize Ohio law with federal law when it comes to prohibiting domestic abusers from having access to guns

SB 188 – would provide gun owners with the option to store their firearms outside the home with regulated gun dealers or shooting range owners

SB 189 – would give a non-refundable income tax credit of up to $250 per person per year to cover the cost of handgun safety training, safe storage or locking devices.

Chances of passage

Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature. And in recent years, they have passed bills that give more rights to gun owners and loosen regulations on firearms.

The Democrats stress these three bills are bipartisan and were developed after talking to stakeholders, including the National Rifle Association, Buckeye Firearms, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the Ohio Mayors Alliance and local government leaders, as well as leaders in the alcohol, drug abuse and mental health arenas.

“We want to do something. We want to get past ‘stop.’ And this is not a ban on assault weapons or any other controversial issue dealing with guns,” Sykes said.

But John Fortney, a spokesman for Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), took issue with the legislation.

“Unfortunately, Democrats continue to focus on restricting the second amendment rights of law-abiding Ohioans instead of focusing on the real problem of prosecuting violent crime and keeping offenders in prison,” Fortney said in a statement.

Fortney added, “Criminals don’t consult the Ohio Revised Code before committing crimes.”

Antonio said she knows it’s a challenge to pass bills restricting guns in this political climate. But she said that’s not enough of a reason to stop trying, especially legislation like this that has more widespread support.

“These impossible kinds or pieces of legislation are only impossible until we pass them and then, suddenly we find out, suddenly, maybe 25 years, however long it takes, that indeed it was the right time. It was possible. If we don’t introduce this legislation, we will never know that this time is the right time,” Antonio said.

The three bills have been assigned to committees but none has received a hearing.

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