COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Despite a dreary overcast sky and the drizzle of rain from above, supporters of common sense gun legislation stood on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday morning.
The group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, wearing their red t-shirts with white letters, could be found all over Capitol Square.
Some attended the rally while others were already inside listening to testimony on legislation related to guns and gun safety.
The House State and Local Government Committee heard testimony from supporters of State Rep. Michael Henne’s House Bill 585 which is based on Governor John Kasich’s 6 proposed gun legislative measures.
First to testify was Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, a victim of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that took her life and that of 16 others.
It has been three months and a day since he lost his 14-year-old daughter. She was shot in the back running from the gunman. Guttenberg says the Mother’s Day was the first without his daughter and it was miserable.
His emotional testimony drew no questions from the lawmakers present. Chairwoman Rep. Marlene Anielski, having lost her son, thanked Guttenberg for his testimony and shared with him her perspective on losing a child and what he can expect moving forward.
Next, Guttenberg visited the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by Sen. Bill Coley III. There, Guttenberg testified in support of State Senators Joe Schiavoni’s and Sandra Williams’ Senate Bill 278, also known as a Red Flag bill.
Guttenberg says partisanship has nothing to do with what bills he supports, he just wants common sense bills to be passed; and so does his mother who is a resident of Cincinnati and at the rally this morning.
Having lost her granddaughter, she wants Ohio lawmakers to step up and lead the nation on getting common sense legislation moving. She is not pleased with the lack of follow through lawmakers have shown since the deadly shooting three months ago.
Perhaps that is because, as Guttenberg pointed out in his testimony, not enough people are calling their lawmakers demanding action be taken.
“There wasn’t an outcry in Florida, until we had this mass casualty,” said Guttenberg. “It means Parkland didn’t happen here, be thankful and don’t wait. That’s my message, don’t wait.”
While a catastrophe on the level of what happened in Florida may not have happened yet in Ohio, the state has had shootings in the recent past.
A fatal incident occurred in 2012 at Chardon High School, and several students were injured when a gunman opened fire at Madison Junior/Senior High School in 2016.
Cameron Smith was one of the survivors of the 2016 shooting.
“You see somebody walking toward you with a gun, it’s…” Smith’s voice trailed off. “You realize you’ve been shot once you see the blood.”
He was shot in the back and had to undergo three surgeries and a year and a half of physical therapy to get back to where he is today.
He still lives in constant pain from the nerve damage that was done that day.
He addressed the crowd at the rally and wants lawmakers to hear his message.
“I want to have a bill passed to prevent other kids from having to go through what I had to go through,” said Smith.
Smith says he could support a Red Flag bill like those being heard at the Statehouse Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Guttenberg says he will not quit trying to get common sense laws passed here in Ohio.
“For me, this is purely about loss,” said Guttenberg. “This is life or death.”