A Republican state senator in Ohio joined her Democratic colleagues to co-sponsor gun control legislation that would mandate universal background checks and raise the age requirement for purchasing a gun from 18 to 21.
The House Criminal Justice Committee is considering legislation that would loosen gun restrictions by allowing adults 21 years old or older to conceal carry handguns without a permit. This legislation was introduced earlier this year.
Although the background check legislation failed to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate in the last legislative session, the recent mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine people has brought gun control discussion to the forefront of the state’s priorities. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine laid out an 18-point plan to address gun violence and mental health problems, which included universal background checks, red-flag style laws and social media monitoring.
Republican leadership has mostly been silent on whether they would support any of DeWine’s proposals, but have said they will give his suggestions fair consideration. Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, was the first Republican to formally sign onto some of DeWine’s agenda by co-sponsoring this legislation. DeWine made no mention of raising the age for firearm sales.
“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 in a news release. “Whether it will be on a school playground, in a church where we gather to pray, or in a crowded entertainment district, this legislation will keep a gun out of the hands of someone intent on evil. 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.”
Currently, private sales are not subject to background check requirements in Ohio, which is sometimes called the gun-show loophole. This legislation would require that private transactions, including ones done at a gun show, be processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System at the point of the transfer.
The minimum age to purchase a long gun is currently 18 in Ohio and the age to purchase a handgun is 21. This legislation would raise the age for long-gun purchases to 21. Military and law enforcement members would be exempt from the new age requirement.
“The Dayton tragedy has brought us all closer together and through our sorrow, we are determined to curb senseless gun violence,” Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Avondale, the other primary sponsor of the legislation, said in a news release. “These bills are common sense and widely supported. Most importantly, they make it harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands. I’m glad to have Senator Lehner’s support as we work to pass meaningful gun reforms that will save lives.”
Gun rights organizations, including the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, have been critical of expanded background checks. GOA has warned that such legislation would give the state too much power and could allow them to create a gun registry with the information.
Rather, GOA has promoted constitutional carry legislation, such as the legislation that had been proposed in the House, as a way to prevent mass shootings. There has been no movement on that legislation since June.