Watch a previous report on the Second Amendment Preservation Act in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen bills either expanding or restricting access to firearms, and some are closer than others to passing.
From a bill requiring the safe storage of firearms to a tax incentive for arms and ammunition manufacturers, state legislators are fighting between preserving the Second Amendment and reducing gun violence. And lawmakers’ priorities are split by a clear partisan demarcation.
On Tuesday, the House Government Oversight Committee held its sixth hearing on the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which would pull the teeth out of future federal gun regulations and render them unenforceable in Ohio. On its 12th version since being introduced, its supporters in the legislature hope to bring it for a House vote by November.
The bill is the closest piece of firearm legislation to becoming law. But there are about 14 others making their way through the statehouse, albeit at various speeds.
Republicans’ priorities: Expanding firearm access and Second Amendment protections
The Self-Defense Protection Act
Sponsored by Reps. Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) and Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville), House Bill 233 establishes a pretrial procedure for a criminal defendant claiming self-defense.
A defendant may file a pretrial motion to assert their self-defense claim, and if the judge decides that enough evidence exists to support that claim, the trial will proceed with a “rebuttable assumption” of self-defense, and the prosecution will be required to disprove that claim beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the defendant does not raise a pretrial motion, they may still assert the self-defense claim, but the onus is on the defendant to prove the defense.
The bill has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee but has not received a hearing since its introduction in June.
The Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act
Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Sen. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), seeks to protect purchasers of firearms from public disclosure. It would prohibit government entities from keeping a list of privately owned firearms or firearm owners, and it would prevent financial institutions from treating the purchase of a firearm differently from the purchase of any other good.
Iterations of the Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act have been introduced in multiple states, including in Oklahoma, and passed in other states, like North Dakota and Montana. Like other states’ bills, SB 148 would also block financial institutions from releasing the information of people who purchase firearms, except to cooperate in law enforcement investigations.
The bill received its first hearing Tuesday in the Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee.
Senate Bill 124 and House Bill 189
Legislation introduced in both chambers would incentivize arms and ammunition manufacturers to move or expand operations in Ohio.
Sponsored in the House by Rep. Al Cutrona (R-Canfield) and in the Senate by Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), the bill would enable small arms manufacturers to apply for a nonrefundable tax credit for up to 20 years if they invest in new or expanded Ohio facilities.
The bill would also exempt many firearms from sales and use taxes, including 50-caliber non-shotguns and under, and 10-gauge shotguns or smaller. Schaffer has argued the sales tax exemption, similar to an exemption passed in West Virginia, will make Ohio’s firearms sellers more competitive.
SB 124 had its first hearing Oct. 3, while HB 189 has had three hearings.
Other bills for consideration:
- Senate Bill 58 would prohibit the requirement that a gun owner purchase firearms liability insurance. It passed the Senate in April and has had three hearings in the House, most recently on Wednesday.
- Senate Bill 32 would extend immunity from gun-related injury civil claims to individuals who act in self-defense or are guests of a non-profit organization. Currently, non-profit corporations are immune from civil suits related to the discharge of firearms in defense of guests on their property. Its last committee hearing was in March.
- House Bill 272 would allow municipalities to permit concealed carry in non-courthouse government buildings that house courtrooms. Many villages and smaller municipalities house major government functions, including court proceedings, in one building. Its first committee hearing was Oct. 3.
Democrats’ priorities: Limiting firearm access and reducing gun violence
The Keep Every Home Safe Act
House Bill 175 would require that all firearms be safely stored in homes. Its sponsors, Reps. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) and Darnell Brewer (D-Cleveland), have introduced the bill to reduce the proliferation of gun violence and gun deaths among youth.
Under the bill, a firearm is considered safely stored if in a secure storage container or in an opaque container with a gun lock attached. The bill does not, however, create a criminal offense for failing to safely secure a firearm.
For every incident in which a minor carried or discharged a firearm, law enforcement would be required to document whether the firearm was safely secured, whether or not someone was injured. Any household “impacted” by minors’ access to unsecured firearms would be eligible to receive a safe storage device or gun lock for every firearm in the home.
HB 175 received one committee hearing in June.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act
Sponsored by Reps. Michele Grim (D-Toledo) and Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati), House Bill 170 would create an “extreme risk” protection order to prevent someone believed dangerous to themselves or others from accessing firearms.
A household member or law enforcement officer could petition a common pleas court to issue the protection order. The court would hold a hearing within two weeks of the petition, and if granting the protection order, could require the person to surrender their firearms for 180 days.
In emergency cases, the court can enact a temporary protection order before holding a hearing. If a law enforcement agency initiates the petition, the agency must make a good faith effort to notify people who may be at risk of violence, including family members of the person or third parties.
The bill received one hearing in June.
The Suicide Self-Defense Act
Senate Bill 164 would enable people at risk of suicide to request the state attorney general place them in a confidential database, shared with the FBI’s NICS database, that prevents them from purchasing a firearm.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus), said the bill is a “measured, voluntary, and reasonable solution” to the mental health crisis. According to the Ohio Department of Health, firearms have been the leading mechanism of suicide since at least 2012, and in 2021 accounted for 60% of male suicides and 39% of female suicides.
If a person wishes to remove their name from the database, they must either wait a 21-day cool-off period or petition a common pleas court to waive the delay.
SB 164 was introduced in late September and awaits its first hearing.
Other bills for consideration:
- Senate Bill 78 and House Bill 218 would restore local authority to regulate firearms. Last year, the legislature stripped municipalities of that authority following the announcement of gun restrictions in some of Ohio’s major cities, including Columbus. SB 78 has received one hearing.
- House Bill 62 would scale back the expansion of Ohio’s stand-your-ground law and re-establish a duty to retreat except when a person is in their residence, vehicle or the vehicle of an immediate family member. It received its first hearing in June.
- House Bill 217 would require any firearm for purchase be sold with a trigger lock attached. It has not received a hearing since being introduced in June.