With Some Bipartisan Support, Gun Reform Bills Get Hearings In Ohio Senate Committee

Sep 17, 2019

An Ohio Senate committee is holding hearings on several pieces of gun legislation on Tuesday. Some of the bills being heard in the Government Oversight and Reform Committee won the support of Republicans following last month’s Dayton mass shooting.

Nine people were killed in a shooting at a popular nightclub in the city’s Oregon District on August 4. Another 27 people were injured in the 32-second-long shooting spree, which ended when police killed the gunman.

This incident prompted state Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) and other lawmakers to call for action to curb gun violence. Lehner has signed onto three bipartisan bills now in the legislature.

One of the bills raises the age for purchasing a firearm from 18 years old to 21 years old. Another strengthens the background check system used when firearms are purchased at gun stores.

The third bipartisan proposal, known as a “red flag” bill, allows a judge to issue an order to temporarily take guns away from an owner who is reported to be a danger to themselves or others without the gun owner's knowledge beforehand. 

Despite winning some bipartisan support, those three bills do not have the support of Republican leaders in the Ohio House and Senate.

They’re also not the same bills that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine indicated he'd like to see passed by the Ohio legislature as part of his 17-point gun reform plan. The gun bills backed by DeWine are expected to be introduced soon.

Four other gun bills being heard Tuesday as well. Those proposals, which go farther than the bipartisan bills, are sponsored by state Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati). 

One of Thomas’ bill would ban bump stocks, a gun accessory that can dramatically increase the rate of fire. Some Ohio cities like Columbus and Cincinnati already moved to ban bump stocks, and the Trump administration reclassified the devices earlier this year to make them illegal in the U.S.

Another bill requires background checks on retail gun sales and bans "straw man" sales. The third bill would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase a firearm.

Thomas is also sponsoring a bill that would close what is commonly referred to as the "gun show loophole.”

It is doubtful these bills will pass the Ohio Legislature. But Democrats want to get on board behind stronger gun bills, and are using this as an opportunity to put that support on record.