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More Gun Bills Divide Ohio Lawmakers

Lisa Marie Pane

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio Highway Patrol show 430 more people died from gun related deaths in 2017 than in car accidents. Lawmakers have different ideas on what should be done to make Ohioans safer while insuring their constitutional rights to bear arms.

Many majority Republicans back a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a license. Minority Democrats want what they call “common sense gun legislation” instead.

House Democrats are proposing three bills they say would make Ohioans safer while still protecting the constitutional rights of Ohio's gun owners.

One bill would require safe storage of guns so they can't end up in the hands of children. Another allows the seizure of guns from people who could be considered dangerous. The third bill would expand background checks.

At the very time Democrats were outlining their gun bills, the Ohio House Federalism Committee was hearing Republican backed gun legislation to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a license or training. Both are now required under Ohio law.

The legislation also expands definitions of what constitutes a weapon. The bill already has 29 sponsors or co-sponsors.

“The uncertainty that this bill creates by defining weapons in the broadest, most irresponsible manner is terrible," said Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus). He said passage of the bill would make communities unsafe.

That GOP bill also faces opposition from prosecutors and police. Some showed up to testify against it. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz urged lawmakers to reject the plan, saying officers need more protection from criminals they apprehend.

The Republican gun bill also got a tepid response from House Speaker Larry Householder, who says he has legal questions.

“I’ve asked that the bill, probably as it leaves one committee, it goes to another, probably criminal justice, to have some additional hearings," Householder told reporters.

While more gun restrictions would be a heavy lift in this legislature, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has signaled he’d support some sort of a so-called red flag law.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.