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Gun Safety Group Refiles Potential Ballot Issue Language


A gun safety group has resubmitted petition language that would call for the Ohio General Assembly to pass a bill that would expand background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows.

The petition language seeks to create a law that requires all gun sales and transfers be conducted by a federally-licensed firearms dealer. Ohioans for Gun Safety says this proposal would expand background checks and close the so-called “Gun Show Loophole.”

The Ohio Attorney General denied the group’s first filing and noted some changes that would have to be made, including the language regarding exemptions.

Dennis Willard, Ohioans for Gun Safety spokesperson, says the group made some simple changes in its petition language and immediately collected signatures.

“Because there’s so much overwhelming support for background checks for gun safety in Ohio we were able to collect over 1,700 signatures, we need 1,000 valid signatures so we think we’re in good shape,” says Willard.

The petition includes exemptions on gun transfers, such as among family members.

Willard says their quick turnaround on a new submission speaks to the urgency of the issue.

“There’s great concern in our society about gun violence, when you have common sense background checks on gun sales, that means less violence and more safety,” says Willard.

Groups against gun restrictions, such as the Buckeye Firearms Association, say expanding these background checks won’t reduce crime. The group cites a study that says 1% of guns used in crimes come from gun shows or personal transfers.

The petition is an initiated statute. If Ohioans for Gun Safety collect 132,887 valid signatures, they can compel the Ohio House and Senate to pass a bill that closely follows their petition language. The legislature would have four months to take action. If they decide not to move a bill or if they approve something that falls short of the group’s language, then Ohioans for Gun Safety can collect an additional 132,887 signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot.

Willard says, if it comes to that, they would plan on putting it on either the 2020 or 2021 ballot.

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