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Politics

Ohio Bill Would Ban Gun Seizures And Gun Store Shutdowns During Emergencies

guns on display in a gun store
Seth Perlman
/
Associated Press

Ohio lawmakers will once again consider a bill to guarantee that state and local governments can’t seize guns or close gun stores or ranges during declared emergencies. This new version comes as Ohio has seen three mass shootings in three days.

The sponsors say the bill guarantees Second Amendment rights during emergencies, noting gun confiscations after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 and pandemic-related shutdowns of gun stores in Michigan, but not in Ohio.

Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) said lawmakers ran out of time to consider the bill last year, so they’ll do it now – though there were three mass shootings in Ohio in as many days.

“These shootings, the things that are going on, they’re a tragedy. They’re tragic," Schaffer said. "We pray that they would stop and we want to make sure that Ohioans are properly protected, particularly if there’s a state of emergency declared, which is what this bill will do.”

A teenage girl was killed and five other people injured in a shooting in a park in downtown Columbus on Saturday. The same night, three people were killed and three injured in a shooting in a bar in Youngstown. And on Monday, four people were dead in a shooting in West Jefferson in Madison County west of Columbus.

The Republican-backed bill was introduced last year and died. Rob Sexton is with the Buckeye Firearms Association, which supports the bill, along with the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

"We have a legislature right now that can get this done, and we should not wait for a time when a time when anti-gun politicians control this state to ask for protections for our Second Amendment rights," Sexton said. "Now is the time to move on it.”

Gun stores in Ohio and in many states weren't closed at the beginning of the pandemic, when businesses deemed "non-essential" were ordered to shut down. But many gun ranges were closed.

Schaffer and Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster), sponsor of the House bill, said their bills also push back on what they call the growth of the executive state. That's been the basis of several bills during the pandemic, including one that takes effect in a few weeks, allowing state lawmakers to override Gov. Mike DeWine's health orders.

Lawmakers also took out elements of DeWine's gun proposal that he put into his version of the state budget. Those elements included background checks on private gun sales, increased ability for courts to confiscate firearms and increased penalties for people who commit violent crimes with guns.