An effort is underway that could bring an initiated statute before voters at the next Presidential Election that would give them the power to force background checks to be made on private sales of guns.
The group Ohioans for Gun Safety are backing the measure which was announced Monday. Before it does anything, they will need to gather 132,877 total signatures from at least half the counties in the State.
With those in hand they can take the measure to the Legislature and give lawmakers the chance to create the law.
If lawmakers decline to do so, an additional 132,877 signatures can be gathered, and the issue put on the ballot for voters to decide. This is how Medical Marijuana came to be in Ohio.
Some lawmakers, like State Representative Shane Wilkin a Republican from Hillsboro, don’t like the idea that someone outside the Statehouse would create the law; and say that is their responsibility.
But lawmakers have not dealt with this issue despite it being brought up in legislation. Wilkin says, the need for the measure is overblown.
“I don’t think that it’s as big a problem as everybody wants to make it out to be,” said Wilkin.
Wilkin doesn’t believe that gun violence is going to be curbed by forcing gun owners to use a federally licensed gun seller to conduct the private transaction and do a background check in the process.
“A person who is intent on breaking the law is not going to adhere to this anyway,” said Wilkin.
The measure would apply to gun shows and online sales, which have long been targeted by advocates and opponents say this is an attack on the Second Amendment.
“We absolutely support the Second Amendment rights for gun ownership,” said Dennis Willard, a spokesman for Ohioans for Gun Safety. “This has nothing to do with gun ownership, but we believe that people should pass a basic background check before they purchase a gun.”
According to Willard, this is not a final chance for the legislature, but it may be its best chance to create legislation they can all agree on.
“This is basically a kick start to the legislature saying, hey this is an issue that voters want, that your constituents want and if the legislature is paying attention to the people back home then they’ll pass it if they choose to pass on it then we’ll go directly to the voters,” said Willard.
Willard also says, they have spent two years going around the state figuring out what was going to derail this effort and have made concessions to avoid those things.
Exceptions to these proposed changes to the law include when a family member wants to pass a gun down to another family member as a gift. It also exempts antique guns that no longer work.
Willard says they have carefully constructed the measure to also avoid poison pills and hidden agendas.
“[People] just want something very simple and straight forward that’s what we’re doing,” said Willard.