COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A bill is moving forward in the Ohio House that proponents say would preserve the Second Amendment in Ohio, but the legislation is also drawing strong opposition.
House Bill 51, or the Second Amendment Preservation Act, would make it so Ohioans are only subject to the state’s gun laws.
“So that if there are federal gun laws that change, that the federal government will be the one required to enforce those, not local agencies,” Ohio Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said.
Stephens described the bill as “very important,” but some Ohioans are not on board.
“It’s anti-public safety, it’s anti-victim, it’s anti-law enforcement,” local legislative lead for Moms Demand Action in Columbus Michelle Heym said.
The bill would also prohibit and fine local law enforcement agencies that knowingly enforce federal gun laws that do not align with Ohio’s Second Amendment laws.
“We don’t want to be used to enforce anti-gun bans or pistol brace bans or anything like that,” Rep. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) said. “We want Ohioans to be able to use their Second Amendment rights. If the federal government wants to use resources to enforce their gun bans, they can, but they are not going to use our share of local police to do that.”
“It’s not right; it’s just unsafe for Ohioans,” Heym said. “We already have the right to bear arms in Ohio, we already have permit-less carry, we already arm teachers with minimal training, we already have stand your ground.”
The bill has had several hearings and is now on its 12th version. The biggest changes on Tuesday clarified that the state will encourage the Second Amendment right while allowing local law enforcement to work with federal agencies on task forces and enforce federal laws in some instances.
“Drug-related, weapons under disability related that mirrors state law and then, obviously, you have your violent offenders, too,” Swearingen said.
Chair of the Ohio House Government Oversight Committee Rep. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) said he thinks this version has “significant improvements over the previous versions.” Opponents are still skeptical.
“I think this is a very bad bill from the basic concept,” opponent Pat Krummrich said. “I think they’re trying to wordsmith it to make it more palatable.”
A nearly identical bill in Missouri was recently ruled unconstitutional.
“That was Missouri, this is Ohio,” Stephens said. “The Second Amendment is very important in Ohio, and I think it’s important that we look at these issues and be thoughtful about them and make sure they will stand up to legal scrutiny.”
“It doesn’t make sense to have a bill that’s been deemed unconstitutional in another state,” Heym said.
The bill will likely continue to move forward and be voted out of committee within the next few weeks. Swearingen said the goal is the have this bill on the House floor in November.