COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An Ohio bill aiming to reduce gun violence and address mental health issues had a second hearing today.
Sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Senate Bill 357 would ramp up gun restrictions in an effort to curb violence. Gun owner Whitney Austin, who was shot 12 times in a mass shooting, testified for the bill on Tuesday.
“Too much stagnation has occurred on this issue in Ohio,” Austin said. “And I’m here to be supportive of somebody who wants to change that.”
Austin said she is glad to see a conversation surrounding gun legislation in the state.
“Let’s come together, let’s sit at the table together and let’s find those common ground solutions that we can move forward with,” Austin said. “I think that this is a long fight, there are many forms of gun violence and many solutions that need to be put into place. Some need to happen here, some need to happen in our communities.”
“It’s something when someone who has been through that tragedy has now dedicated her life to making sure it doesn’t happen again,” Dolan said.
Austin said she appreciates the increased liability this bill brings to both gun purchasers and sellers.
“We shouldn’t sell guns to prohibited people,” Austin said. “I also appreciated there is increased liability for people who sell guns to prohibited people without going through a background check.”
Dolan said some law enforcement said his bill does not go far enough, after he took out the safety protection order.
“The police chiefs actually came out against this bill because they wanted the safety provision to remain in the bill. They don’t think this bill goes far enough,” Dolan said. “We’re always working but I’m not going to add back in the safety protection order.”
“There is a need to be able to intervene when someone is in crisis and temporarily transfer their firearm,” Austin said.
In a statement, Democratic Sen. Cecil Thomas said, “I am encouraged by the recent committee hearings for Senate Bill 357, but it still does not do enough to address gun violence and keep Ohioans safe.”
“While this bill does not go as far as Senate Bill 351, the Defend Our Children Act, it takes positive steps to improve the processes we have to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people,” Thomas continued. “I urge my Republican colleagues to support these efforts and also schedule committee hearings on additional commonsense gun reform legislation, including the Defend our Children Act.”
“We’re trying to make sure that we get people help before they commit homicide, before they commit suicide,” Dolan said.
“Our vision at Whitney/Strong is that we have less people shot, that is absolutely the goal and we are not headed in the right direction,” Austin said. “We have increases in accidents, increases in mass shootings, domestic violence, homicides and suicide.”
Dolan said he is working with lawmakers in the statehouse to get this bill through before the end of the year. Another hearing for the bill is scheduled for next week.