COLUMBUS (WCMH) — This week, lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse took time to hear opponents of House Bill 585 which is modeled after Governor John Kasich’s 6 proposed common sense measures to deal with guns and gun violence.
Kasich did not write the bill, and didn’t even come up with the proposals himself. He had a taskforce of pro-2nd Amendment honoring people from both sides of the political spectrum who demanded be willing to make compromises get together and hash out several items.
One of the proposals is a Red Flag provision that would allow the authorities to take someone’s guns from them if they are a danger to themselves of others.
The provision is far more complicated than that. Suffice to say, the version in the bill being heard allowed for the weapons to be taken after law enforcement received a tip from someone of that danger, and then went to a judge who reviewed the information and found it credible enough to allow the police to seize the weapons.
The guns at that point are not gone forever, they are held until it can be determined if the person is truly a danger or not.
The rub right now is in how long that period of time is before the determination.
Opponents of the bill don’t think the guns should be seized without due process, and in several versions of the Red Flag provision circulating as bills at the Statehouse the time before a hearing to determine a person’s mental fitness can range from 72 hours to 15 days. Opponents say a single hour is too long.
But that is just one part of the bill, there are other parts that opponents are not happy with; but that is not what this story is about.
This story is about finding a middle ground, if there is one.
One of the many people who came to the Statehouse this week to speak in opposition of the bill was Dan Padula.
Padula is the President of the Western Reserve Fish and Game Association in Niles and he drove two and a half hours to get to the Statehouse to testify in front of lawmakers.
“it’s just such a terrible piece of legislation,” said Padula.
He and the people he represents feel betrayed and a little bewildered by the Republicans who have sponsored and introduced the bills modeled after Kasich’s proposal.
Padula says he feels Kasich himself has flipped on his gun position on guns.
And Padula takes parts of the bill very personally; like what it would do if he wanted to pass a gun down to his grandson.
On this particular issue you can cut right to the heart of the matter to some degree. For Padula, the legislation represents the government reaching into his personal life and becoming involved with what he wants to do with his own property.
But it goes beyond property. That gun he wants to pass down to his grandson someday isn’t just a gun.
It’s not just a hunk of metal, levers and springs; it is a part of his heritage, a family heirloom, and he wants to protect it because it was passed down to him from his grandfather.
Padula fears that if the bill is passed, it is one more step toward the government requiring all guns be registered and that if they aren’t registered they will be taken away permanently.
That real fear of losing something precious to him that in turn makes him cling tighter to it.
The object to him may be a gun to others, but to him it is his grandfather’s memory.
And it’s these types of reasons supporters of the bill were there to learn and try to understand.
Padula, and opponents of the bill like him, were surrounded by supporters of the bill like Tess Stuber.
Stuber is a recent high school graduate and member of the State of Ohio Youth Activists.
They have been active in following gun legislation since the Parkland, Florida shooting earlier this year.
Stuber, and the other members of her group were not at the hearing to cause trouble, or throw anything in the face of opponents.
They were there to listen.
“With such a controversial issue, we are always working toward a middle ground and so if we don’t understand the other side there is no middle to be found,” said Stuber. “If we can understand them a little better maybe we can work to find some sort of compromise so they don’t feel like we’re infringing on any of their rights, we’re just doing things that will protect us as a whole community.”
Stuber was not alone in accepting that a middle ground was out there somewhere.
Padula agrees it exists, but does not believe the bill as written is it.
You see, that’s the difficult thing, no one seems to agree on where the middle ground is. But there are signs of hope that it can be found with people like Stuber and Padula willing to try to locate it.
But that hope can be dashed in an instant with people who are unwilling to accept it even exists.
“There is no middle ground,” said Chris Dorr, director of Ohio Gun Owners. “The middle ground to us would be passing something pro-gun like stand your ground or constitutional carry, bills that empower law-abiding citizens to take their own self-defense into their own hands and be their own best self-defense.”
To Dorr, and people who share his opinion that is indeed the middle ground, but it may be ground they are standing on alone.
Regardless if they are right or wrong, no single group has all the answers to solve the problem we face at schools across America today.
When a school shooting happens some people say the solution is Red Flag laws. If they were in place it would not have happened.
Dorr says, Red Flag laws are not going to stop someone who is intent on getting into that building and killing people with a gun, so the solution isn’t to prevent the crime but to stop it as quickly as possible by arming as many people as possible.
And inevitably someone will say increasing the number of weapons in an area simply increases the probability one will be used irresponsibly or accidentally and end up hurting someone.
Dorr doesn’t believe that math, and says Ohio gun owners are so responsible that would not happen.
Perhaps, but are all of them that infallible?
Padula did bring up one final point that should be mentioned.
He has concerns that the laws that are already on the books in Ohio aren’t being enforced.
If that is true, then just as he says, the people responsible for enforcing those laws need to be held accountable.
If you are aware of how those laws are not being enforced you are encouraged to share your concerns with your local media outlets, and have patience while those concerns can be looked into.
And remember that things are not always the way you think they are.
Padula for example was not happy about something someone from another state said in an interview, and had to be reminded that what they were talking about is not what was being considered here locally.
Another opponent of the bill mistakenly thought it was trying to take AR-15’s away from people, which it does not.
Dorr says these mistakes are understandable given the large number of pieces of gun legislation that have been introduced at the Statehouse since the Parkland shooting.
Perhaps one of the ways to stem the tide is to pass something both sides can get behind, as Padula says, “Somewhere along the line, we have to get together and come together in the middle and say, ‘okay what’s reasonable and what’s responsible.”