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Ohio Moms Demand Action, Everytown Respond After Gov. Dewine Abandons Efforts to Require Background Checks on All Ohio Gun Sales

Background Checks and Red Flag Laws are Fundamental to Gun Safety, and Were Once Supported by Gov. DeWine

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today responded after Gov. Mike DeWine released legislative proposals that would create an optional background check facilitated by the Ohio Department of Public Safety — this despite the fact that background checks are already optional: If an unlicensed seller wants to conduct a background check on a prospective buyer, they can already do that by simply having a licensed dealer facilitate the transfer.

The governor’s proposal also includes a Safety Protection Order that is not a Red Flag proposal or anything that even remotely resembles it. Instead, a court would have the option of issuing a safety protection order when a person is already prohibited under Ohio law, or otherwise already formally adjudicated mentally ill, drug dependent, or a chronic alcoholic. Red Flag laws are intended to give family members and law enforcement a tool to temporarily restrict access to firearms for a person who is in crisis but not already prohibited from possessing guns under a state or federal law.

“If he’s serious about addressing gun violence, Gov. DeWine has a strong roadmap — the proposals he laid out two months ago,” said Kristine Woodworth, volunteer chapter leader for the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Ohio needs a strong background check law and a strong Red Flag law just as much today as we did then, but today’s proposals include neither. It’s simply not enough to create another optional background check process – a process that would leave it up to the very people who shouldn’t have guns — felons, domestic abusers —  to decide whether to submit to a background check.”

“We’re tired of politicians who say one thing on gun safety and do another,” said Mitchell Pinsky, volunteer leader with the Ohio State University chapter of Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Ohioans deserve leaders who will stand up for our safety and support common-sense policies like background checks on all gun sales. With or without Gov. DeWine’s support, we’ll keep fighting to protect our communities from gun violence.” 

BACKGROUND CHECKS

On Aug. 6, Gov. DeWine announced he was “calling on the Ohio General Assembly to pass a law requiring background checks for all firearms sales in the state of Ohio with certain limited, reasonable exceptions, including gifts between family members.” 

Ohio lawmakers have since introduced SB 183, bipartisan legislation that would require background checks on all gun sales, with reasonable exceptions. But the governor has not backed the bill, and today’s proposals would not create a new background check requirement.

A recent report showed that in 2018 alone, there were as many as 127,524 ads on Armslist.com offering guns for sale in Ohio with no background check required.

Under current federal law, background checks are required only for gun sales by licensed firearm dealers. No background check is required for sales by unlicensed individuals, who can sell guns to strangers they meet online or at gun shows – with no background check, no questions asked, and no way to know whether the buyer is a criminal or otherwise prohibited from having guns. 15 states and the District of Columbia have closed this loophole by enacting laws requiring background checks on all gun sales. Ohio has not.

RED FLAG OR EXTREME RISK LAWS

Also on Aug. 6, the governor asked the legislature to pass a law creating what he referred to as Safety Protection orders, “which would remove firearms from potentially dangerous individuals and get them the mental health treatment they need all while maintaining an individual’s right to due process.” 

Lawmakers subsequently introduced SB 184, bipartisan Red Flag legislation that would permit immediate family members and law enforcement officers to petition a court for an order temporarily removing guns from people who are at risk of harming themselves or others. The governor has not backed the bill, and today’s Safety Protection order proposal would not give Ohio families any new tools to intervene when a loved one is in crisis.