Coalition to Ohio GOP: Pass common-sense gun reforms or 'get out of the way'
The showdown over guns isn't happening at the OK Corral these days— it's often at the Ohio Statehouse.
That's why Democratic state leaders joined with leaders of the city of Columbus and gun control activists on the Statehouse steps on Thursday to send a message to the Republicans who dominate the Ohio Legislature.
"If they don't have the courage to act, they need to get out of the way," Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said.
For the past couple of decades, Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly have pushed through laws that they say protect the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.
“Our Founding Fathers enshrined our right to bear arms with the Second Amendment," Republican Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens said. "Time after time, responsible gun owners are being scapegoated by liberal politicians, who think that the silver bullet for solving gun violence is to go after law-abiding citizens. They limit law enforcement and grandstand, while ignoring the fact that violent crimes are at record levels on their watch."
Back in 2004, the legislature passed a law to allow Ohioans to carry concealed weapons after getting a permit. Since then, Ohio lawmakers have passed several bills that allow more people to carry more guns in more places with fewer controls.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine had proposed a 17-point gun reform plan that included things like better background checks, safety protection orders and increased penalties for gun crimes. That proposal went nowhere in the Ohio Legislature and in 2021, DeWine signed into law the controversial bill known as "stand your ground," which allows Ohioans to use deadly force in self defense in public places without first trying to retreat.
During those same years, the outnumbered Democrats in the legislature have proposed gun reforms that have gone nowhere. And Democratic mayors in Ohio's big cities, like Ginther, have passed measures like bans on certain weapons that have either been turned back by courts or banned by the Ohio Legislature.
Ginther blamed increases in crime in large part on state lawmakers who pass bills that end up putting more guns on the street.
“We are committed to ending this vicious cycle once and for all. We are here today to say loud and unequivocally that this violence must end," Ginther said.
Ohio House MInority Leader Allison Russo (D- Upper Arlington) laid increasing gun violence at the feet of Republicans lawmakers.
"Let's call a spade a spade. Ohio has some of the worst pro-gun crime and anti-cop laws in the country and nothing has been done about it," Russo said.
Russo cited a Suffolk University/USA Today poll that shows the majority Ohioans support better background checks, red flag laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who are unstable or could be dangerous, banning high capacity magazine and safe storage laws. She said she and other Democrats have been pushing bills that Ohioans want but that legislation goes nowhere.
John Fortney, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, said "violent felons don’t consult the Ohio Revised Code before carjacking innocent people at gunpoint."
"Failed liberal mayors like Ginther, Bibb and Lightfoot in Chicago are solely responsible for embracing the immediate release of violent felons, undermining their police force and would rather punish law abiding citizens who simply want to protect themselves and their families under the Second Amendment.," Fortney said.