(The Center Square) – Ohio lawmakers want to be sure when the next pandemic or emergency rolls around, government will not be able to restrict gun rights.
Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, and Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, announced legislation Tuesday that has drawn support from gun-rights groups and would not allow state and local governments from limiting gun rights during emergencies.
“Our legislation is simple and straightforward,” Wiggam said. “The bills prevent state or local authorities from restricting legal firearms possession, transportation, carrying, training, concealed handgun license processing, shooting range access and hunting and fishing during a declared emergency. We’ve seen the growth of the executive state and what that means. That’s why we think this bill is so important.”
Ohio law allows local governments to prohibit guns under certain circumstances or during certain occasions.
Schaffer said the bill would be the strongest law of its kind in the nation and declares gun rights, hunting and fishing as life-sustaining, essential activities.
Similar legislation made its way out of the Senate last year but failed to pass the House before time ran out on the session.
“We’re not adding any new gun laws. We are simply protecting the rights as we know it,” Schaffer said.
Ohio gun owners’ rights were not restricted throughout the pandemic, but several states enacted orders that limited sales or other aspects of gun ownership.
“Many politicians responded to the fear surrounding the pandemic and the riots that erupted across the country last summer by making it more difficult for the law-abiding to protect themselves, their loved-ones and their homes,” said John Weber, Ohio state director with the National Rifle Association. “Restricting the right to self-defense is never the answer when the safety and security of men, women and children are in jeopardy.”
The bill was expected to be assigned a House number later Tuesday, and Wiggam expected it to move quickly through the House. Schaffer asked for quick passage in the Senate, as well.