Senate District 9
Cecil Thomas
Thomas to Introduce Commonsense Gun Bills Supported by Majority of Ohioans
February 17, 2021

This week, state Senators Cecil Thomas (D-Avondale), Hearcel F. Craig (D-Columbus) and Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland) announced that they will soon reintroduce six commonsense gun reform bills that would keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

“The majority of Ohioans have called on lawmakers to pass tighter gun safety measures,” said Senator Thomas. “Clearly, loosening the laws we have does not make Ohioans safer. The General Assembly cannot waste any more time ignoring Ohioans’ demands while gun crimes continue to increase across our state.”

The bills will address several of these safety measures, including:

  • Mandating universal background checks on all firearm transfers. This bill would hold unlicensed gun sellers in Ohio to the same standard as federally licensed dealers, closing a loophole that currently allows many criminals to purchase guns through private sales.

  • Raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 for all guns. The bill would also make improperly furnishing a firearm to an underage person a third-degree felony – it currently is a fifth-degree felony.

  • Temporarily removing firearms from the possession of people who display signs of being a danger to themselves or others – the so-called Red Flag Law.

  • Restoring local control on the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, transfer, transportation, storage and keeping of firearms. Under current law, local governments are prohibited from passing any firearms regulations that are more restrictive than those passed by the state legislature. This bill would allow local governments to regulate firearms in their communities as they deem appropriate.

  • Closing the gun show loophole by mandating background checks on gun show sales and requiring that gun show venues have liability insurance. The bill would prohibit anyone under the legal age for purchasing a firearm from entering the gun show without a parent, grandparent or legal guardian, and it would require gun shows to develop a safety plan and comply with all federal, state and local laws.

  • Banning bump stocks, which is the device currently banned under federal law that alters semi-automatic weapons to perform as automatic weapons. The bill will make the sale or possession of a bump stock a fourth-degree felony.

“Especially during the pandemic, when we have witnessed increases in violence and people experiencing mental health crises, it’s obvious that it is past time for the legislature to act and support gun legislation that will keep Ohioans safe,” said Senator Williams. “These commonsense measures are long overdue to stop the violence in our communities.”

The reintroduction of these bills comes in response to the statewide increase of gun violence in the last year. According to the Office of Criminal Justice in the Ohio Department of Public Safety, gun violence crimes increased by 17% in the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year in the eight largest cities in Ohio. Murders by firearm also increased by 27% during the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

“The data speaks for itself: The route the legislature has taken with relaxing firearm laws has cost Ohioans’ lives,” said Senator Craig. “Some of my constituents live in areas where the odds of being hit by gunfire last year were one in 59. This is beyond disturbing and dangerous. Allowing local governments to pass commonsense gun laws will prevent dangerous people from accessing firearms.”

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