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Senate Democrats Present Gun Death Prevention Legislation

December 12, 2023
Vernon Sykes News

Today, Assistant Minority Leader Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus), Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood), and state Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) held a press conference to discuss a new package of legislation to prevent gun deaths and violence in Ohio.

“Gun violence is out of control across our state and country, with nearly 80% of all homicides and over half of suicides involving a gun,” said Craig. “These situations are preventable, but only if we have the courage to act. We believe we’re offering a balanced and thoughtful approach to a very serious problem. This package of legislation is intended to build bipartisan consensus around proposals that have been proven to reduce gun violence and deaths.”

Senate Bill 164, titled the “Suicide Self-Defense Act,” would give Ohioans the option to temporarily relinquish their ability to purchase or possess a firearm if they believe they are at risk of self-harm.

“In the United States, domestic abuse has a frequent and deadly correlation to gun violence,” said Antonio. “While we know guns do not cause domestic violence, an abuser with a gun is far more deadly than an unarmed one. Senate Bill 187 will harmonize Ohio law with federal law by removing the ability of domestic abusers to lawfully possess guns. This legislation will save the lives of women, children, and law enforcement in our state. If we don’t introduce this kind of legislation now, we’ll never know that this time was the right time.”

Senate Bill 187 would prohibit individuals with a domestic violence conviction from possessing a firearm. Although it is already illegal under federal law for such individuals to possess a firearm, gaps in Ohio law subvert the federal statute.

“Deaths by suicide or homicide are a leading cause of premature death for young people and children,” said Sykes. “Having unsecured guns in your home undeniably increases risk, especially for children, due to accidental shootings. Many of these tragedies are entirely preventable. Most unintentional firearm deaths among children involve guns that were stored but not secured. Responsible gun owners know that putting their guns out of view and out of reach is not safe enough to stop use by children, unauthorized adults, or those at risk of hurting themselves.”

Finally, Senate Bills 188 and 189 provide gun owners with options and incentives to safely store and handle their firearms. S.B. 188 gives gun owners the option to store their firearms with regulated gun dealers or shooting range owners outside of the home, while S.B. 189 offers an income tax break to gun owners who exhibit safe handling and safe storage practices.

Watch the full press conference here.