Radical Ohio leaders stymying efforts to curb gun violence| Our viewDispatch Editorial Board 

Gun Rights

“It is time lawmakers did something to reduce the likelihood that Ohioans fall victim to gun violence,” Dispatch Editorial Board

Ohioans want common sense gun safety reform.

That’s not a controversial statement.

Poll after poll and study after study shows that we — Republican and Democratic gun owners included — support simple measures that will make this a far safer state.

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It is illuminating, but thusly not a surprise that the overwhelming majority of Ohioans — roughly nine out of 10 — support mandatory background checks for gun buyers and that people receive training before obtaining a concealed weapons permit, according to new USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University survey.

The poll proves gun safety reform is not a fringe idea in Ohio.

What is radical, shameful, perplexing and deadly is that the vast majority of the Republican lawmakers that dominate the Ohio General Assembly refuse to listen to the will of the people.

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They have a new opportunity to stand with the people they swore to represent.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other local leaders asked lawmakers to act on legislation this week that is aimed at making Ohio a safer state following the Thursday release of the survey.

Democrats have introduced several bills in recent months including:

  • House Bill 170, a red-flag law that would allow for temporarily removing firearms from people who are a danger to themselves or others. So far the bill has had one hearing.
  • House Bill 175, which would require safe storage of firearms. The bill authorizes a tax credit for the purchase of safety storage equipment. So far the bill has had one hearing.
  • House Bill 217, which would require that gun trigger locks be attached and provided with firearms sales by federally licensed firearms dealers. The bill has not had a hearing yet.

These measures are not extreme.

The survey results are a clear nonpartisan call to action for common sense reforms that do not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

Lawmakers out of step with Ohioans

The poll is of the same likely Ohio voters who are supporting former President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden in the 2024 rematch for the White House by 43.6% to 38.2%.

“To me, a gun is a big responsibility, like driving a car,” said Connie Marsh, a retired law enforcement reserve officer and gun enthusiast from Dover near Canton, who spoke to a USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau reporter. “You have a certain amount of training to achieve before you can drive a car because you can kill people.”

It is time lawmakers did something to reduce the likelihood that Ohioans fall victim to gun violence.

There are many things they could do.

Just more than 75% of the 500 Ohioans surveyed from around the state for the poll support liability laws mandating safe storage of guns.

Yes, 53% oppose local governments like cities and townships being able to pass their own gun laws but who can blame cities and townships for trying when lawmakers won’t act.

Attempts to get most state Republican lawmakers to address the elephant in the room have proven fruitless time and time again.

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They have actively obstructed or totally reversed measures to address intentional and accidental gun violence in Ohio households and on our streets.

Background checks and a host of other measures Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, put forward following the Aug. 4, 2019 Dayton mass shooting were rejected by lawmakers in step with the National Rifle Association instead of Ohioans.

There were other actions:

They ignore voters’ calls for change and stymie efforts of those who are listening and trying to do the “something” chanters demanded at a vigil following the mass shooting in Dayton that left nine mowed down with bullets in the street.

For proof, one doesn’t have to look further than the full throttle efforts from GOP lawmakers and gun lobbyists to block enforcement of the gun-related ordinances Columbus City Council passed in December that includes a ban on certain firearm magazines of 30 or more bullets and requirements for safe gun storage.

Reality of unchecked gun violence

Their obstruction has real-world consequences.

Last year, 90% of Columbus’ 140 homicides involved a gun. A record 205 people were killed in this city the year before with 93% being gun related.

There were 1,764 firearm deaths in Ohio in 2020, and 1,911 in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to Franklin County Public Health, acute care visits to emergency departments and urgent cares for traumatic gunshot injuries increased by 33.3% between 2017 and 2021, jumping from 496 to 661.

There have been multiple incidents this year of guns falling into the wrong hands in Columbus causing death or serious injury.

In late April, a 3-year-old shot his father in the chest after finding a loaded firearm. The father survived.

Ohioans want and deserve change.

It is beyond time that our lawmakers not only listen but take decisive action. The people of Ohio — all of us — are calling for it.

  • Of those who took the USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University survey, 30.8% identified as a Democrat, 36.4% Republican, 26.4% independent and 6.4% other or undecided.
  • Nearly 75% are in favor of a red-flag law that would allow a family member or member of law enforcement to seek to remove firearms from someone they fear will cause harm to themselves or others.
  • Nearly 55% support an Ohio ban of high-capacity magazines or assault-style weapons.

In these divisive times, it can be challenging to find things even people who live in a neighborhood agree with by 90%.

It is significant that so many Ohioans want common sense gun laws.

It is high time voters make them listen.

It is beyond time for Ohio lawmakers to do the right and just things to make this state safer from gun violence.

This piece was written by the Dispatch Opinion Editor Amelia Robinson on behalf of The Dispatch Editorial Board. Editorials are our board’s fact-based assessment of issues of importance to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff members, who strive for neutrality in their reporting.

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