Senate District 9
Cecil Thomas
Thomas, Maharath Introduce Defend Our Children Act
The legislation includes several popular, commonsense proposals to reduce gun violence
June 22, 2022

Today, state Senators Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale) and Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester) introduced the Defend Our Children Act, a gun safety plan to reduce violent crime and keep children safe.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress have agreed on a framework to reduce gun violence. Our caucus believes a bipartisan agreement is also possible in the Ohio General Assembly, if we listen to what the public wants and work together to keep children safe from gun violence and crime,” Thomas said. “Commonsense policies, such as universal background checks and a red flag law, will help keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. We can’t stop working to address gun violence.”

“I know many Ohioans who live in fear of gun violence. It doesn’t have to be that way. We believe these proposals will save lives,” Maharath said. “I urge my Republican colleagues in the legislature to engage with us on this topic. We should do all we can to keep our children safe.”

Senate Bill 351, which is co-sponsored by all Senate Democrats, combines several commonsense gun reform proposals previously introduced by Senate Democrats and will:

  • require background checks for all firearm transfers (currently Senate Bill 73 – Thomas);

  • raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 (currently S. B. 74 – Thomas);

  • enact a Red Flag Law to allow the courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people considered at risk for themselves or others (currently S. B. 138 – Williams);

  • prohibit negligent storage of firearms and authorize an income tax credit for the purchase of firearms safety storage units (S. B. 279 of the 132nd General Assembly – Sykes and Tavares);

  • add a mandatory three-day waiting period for all gun purchases;

  • increase funding for Ohio Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports grants and expand the program to include all grades.

According to the CDC, 1,764 Ohioans died from firearms in 2021. According to a poll cited by U.S. Senate Republicans, an overwhelming majority of gun-owning registered voters supported the bipartisan gun reform framework. Among other things, the Congressional proposal would require enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21; provide incentives to states to enact red-flag laws and close the boyfriend loophole, which allows people convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse to pass a background check or keep their guns if they were not married to or living with the victim or if they did not have a child with the victim. 

A national poll by Fox News also recently found a bipartisan support for a number of gun reform proposals. In particular, the survey found that 88% of Americans supported universal background checks, 82% favored raising the legal age to buy assault weapons to 21 and 81% favored adopting red flag laws. Seventy-seven percent of Americans also supported requiring a 30-day wait period for all gun purchases and 63% supported banning assault weapons. 

In a letter to Sen. Thomas, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics also called for commonsense gun reform to protect children from gun violence, including legislation around the safe storage of firearms and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 – both of which are included in the Defend our Children Act.

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