Democrat lawmakers hear vigil chants, point to several gun safety bills in limbo

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine stood on the stage at a vigil for those killed and injured in Dayton, Ohio Sunday night, chants of “Do something,” began to rise from the crowd before him.

When those chants grew louder, DeWine told the crowd the thing to do that evening was to tell the families who lost loved ones that they loved them.

Monday, Democrat lawmakers at the Statehouse were ready to talk about heeding the crowd’s demand. State Representative David Leland says after nearly a decade of having their bills virtually ignored things need to change.

“When the legislature wants to do something like bailing out nuclear power plants, they can call special sessions and get people here in a lickity split. This is a much more important issue and we need to be acting right now,” said Leland.

Of the 13 pieces of legislation that have been announced or introduced at the Statehouse only one of them has had a hearing.

A companion to that bill is expected to be introduced by Democrat State Representatives Allison Russo and Bride Rose Sweeney this week. It is what is commonly referred to as a Red Flag law.

The duo has been waiting for Republicans to get on board with the bill for the past few months and Russo says they have had no takers.

“It’s incredibly frustrating when our colleagues from across the aisle are not willing to step up and join us in this effort, but I am hopeful and I remain optimistic,” said Russo.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Senate GOP Caucus John Fortney says Republicans have passed meaningful legislation that tightens regulations on guns and safety pointing out the efforts made to harden schools, addressing kids emotional and psychological issues, and banning straw-man purchases, armor piercing ammunition, and bump stocks.

“The fact is results count; you can’t have an unconstitutional law or an ineffective law passed because it does nothing then to protect the public. If it’s more important to score political points just to pass a law and pat yourself on the back, you’re dishonoring the dead,” said Fortney.

Fortney says he is looking forward to hearing what Governor DeWine proposes Tuesday. He says, he hopes it is something the Republicans can work with and claims the reason for the failure of the Red Flag law last General Assembly was an unwillingness for Governor Kasich to negotiate with the Republicans over their belief it was unconstitutional from a due process standpoint.

DeWine, being a former prosecutor, may have a different view of the due process portion of Red Flag laws and be able to address them in a way that gets enough Republicans on board to get the bill passed; and that is something Rep. Leland says he needs to do.

“The governor is the leader of the State, but he is also the leader of the Republican Party, and he needs to convince those Republican legislators that it’s time to act.”

No easy task as illustrated by a Facebook post from a Republican State Representative over the weekend. Rep. Candice Keller posting what has been described by members of both political parties as, “not helpful” and “divisive.”

Rep. Leland says, her words represent who is running the party, and that some Republicans cower before those individuals.

Efforts to reach Rep. Keller, who has a history of controversial comments, were unsuccessful, she did not respond to requests for comment on her Facebook post.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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