Bills to improve school safety, require safe gun storage and introduce universal background checks receive committee hearings
This week, three common-sense bills introduced by Democratic senators to curb gun violence following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida received their first committee hearings in the Ohio Senate.
The bills would:
- Increase funding for school safety (SB 258 – Senator Joe Schiavoni)
- Require firearms are safely stored when children are present (SB 279 – Senators Charleta B. Tavares and Vernon Sykes)
- Implement universal background checks (SB 283 – Senators Schiavoni and Cecil Thomas)
On Tuesday, Senator Schiavoni provided sponsor testimony before the Finance Committee on SB 258, which would provide non-competitive grants to school districts to increase or improve school safety measures.
“The heartbreaking events of the last few years have made it clear that we must concentrate on real solutions regarding the safety of our children while they are in school,” said Senator Schaivoni. “This is about providing funding to school districts to give them the resources to keep our children safe.”
On Wednesday, Senators Sykes and Tavares gave sponsor testimony for SB 279 before the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. The legislation would require gun owners to keep their firearms housed in locked containers or secured by a trigger lock when a minor is present.
“Just this week, we heard about yet another heartbreaking, unintentional shooting that took the life of a two-year-old in Dayton. And then there are the tragic school shootings perpetrated by teenagers who gained access to adults’ guns,” said Senator Tavares. “The Child Gun Safety Act ensures accountability, is common sense and has the potential to save lives.”
“This bill rightly asserts that safe gun storage is a fundamental part of responsible gun ownership,” said Senator Sykes. “Keeping weapons out of the hands of children who have a potential to cause harm to themselves or others, and do not understand the level of caution one needs when handling a firearm is a common-sense strategy to reduce gun violence.”
Senators Thomas and Schiavoni also provided sponsor testimony in Government Oversight Committee on Wednesday on their legislation to implement universal background checks. SB 283 would require all firearm transactions to be processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) at the point of transfer.
“Closing loopholes that allow unlicensed dealers to sell a gun without conducting a background check will not only help save citizens’ lives, but it will help protect law enforcement,” said Senator Thomas. “It makes sense to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Responsible gun owners and law-abiding citizens will not be affected by this legislation.”
A 2017 study showed that strengthening background checks is one of the strongest and most effective ways for states to reduce gun murders, and states with universal background check laws are found to have half the gun related suicide rate of states without them.
“On average, Ohio loses 1,200 people to gun violence every year,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Evidence shows the states that have enacted this type of legislation have seen significant decreases in gun-related violence. I want Ohio to see that decrease."