COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Republican state senator in Ohio wants to ramp up gun restrictions, diverging from the GOP supermajority that has rallied around legislation expanding firearm access in the state.
“It’s not taking away guns and it will protect us in Ohio,” Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said.
Dolan, a moderate Republican who launched an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate this year, proposed a five-point “commonsense” [sic] plan Thursday to curb gun violence — including giving courts the power to seize guns from those deemed dangerous and making it harder for those between the ages of 18 and 21 to buy a firearm, his office said in a news release.
“We must change the conversation on public safety in Ohio. Citizens are dying here and across our country, and far too many families are enduring unimaginable pain,” Dolan said in the release. “Modernizing the tools we have to defeat gun violence and prevent these deaths doesn’t have to be an all or nothing conversation.”
Dolan’s legislative proposal comes on the heels of a series of bills that loosened gun restrictions in Ohio, more recently Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature on the “constitutional carry” bill, allowing gun-owning adults to carry a firearm without a concealed carry permit, and House Bill 99, easing training requirements for teachers who want to carry a gun in the classroom.
Under Senate Bill 357, Ohioans who pose a danger to themselves or others due to a severe mental health conditions may have their firearm seized by law enforcement if a probate judge issues a safety protection order against them, Dolan said. The court-ordered gun seizure provision is similar to that of an earlier Democratic bill that establishes a “red-flag” program to revoke guns from those who threaten “significant harm.”
“Why are we having these tragic events? The one thing that seems to be uniform in all of them is that the shooter seems to be suffering from some form of mental illness,” Dolan said.
The second point of Dolan’s plan, he said, would require Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 21 to have a co-signer at the time of the firearm purchase, who will be responsible for signing an affidavit of limited responsibility with the purchase.
If the firearm is used to commit a felony by someone under the age of 21, Dolan said the co-signer can be held civilly liable for the offense under SB 357.
Dolan’s bill would also create a seller’s protection certificate for private gun sales, not including those sold to a family member. The certificate, Dolan said, allows a seller to require a buyer to get confirmation from a county sheriff that the buyer does not have a legal disability.
In addition to enhancing background checks by requiring “critical information” about an individual be added to law enforcement databases by the end of the next business day.
“If a spouse gets a restraining order against the other spouse because of violence, that in itself is a legal disability from buying a gun,” Dolan said. “So, shouldn’t that be in the system as fast as possible.”
Dolan said SB 327 would also dedicate American Rescue Plan funds to boost the number of mental health care workers in Ohio.
“Protecting human life and safeguarding Ohioans’ constitutional rights are not mutually exclusive endeavors,” Dolan said. “I look forward to earning the support of my colleagues and passing this commonsense legislation into law.”
David Pepper, the former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said he looks at this bill and thinks commonsense legislation. Still, he said when the Strong Ohio Bill was introduced, with similar provisions, it did not gain enough support.
“Totally common sense, very small steps, they didn’t even get a hearing,” Pepper said.
Pepper said he thinks this bill is a good start to a much-needed conversation.
“The idea that someone can be a danger to themselves and other people and that right now there’s nothing that can be done to stop them, I think anything that can change that is worth pursuing,” Pepper said.