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Voters could decide on expanded background checks for guns

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A new campaign was launched Monday June 10, 2019 to expand gun background checks in Ohio.{ }Ohioans for Gun Safety has launched what's called an "initiated statute", meaning they will collect roughly 133,000 signatures to force lawmakers to consider their proposal{ } (WSYX/WTTE)

A new campaign launched Monday to expand gun background checks in Ohio after years of laws passed to loosen gun restrictions, not tighten them. The proposal would change the law to require background checks at gun shows and in private sales, not just in stores.

The calls for gun reforms at the Ohio Statehouse have grown louder each time there's a tragic mass shooting.

“People are very tired of the ongoing onslaught of stories about gun violence," said Dennis Willard with Ohioans for Gun Safety.

Ohioans for Gun Safety launched a campaign Monday, gathering signatures to compel lawmakers to vote on a proposed change in the law.

“If you want to buy a gun or if you want to sell a gun, then just have a background check," Willard said. "It’s really simple.”

The exception would be if someone gave or sold a gun within their own family. Willard said that transaction would not become subject to a background check.

Critics of the proposed changes said tracking all private sales would be next to impossible with roughly enough guns already in circulation for every person in the United States to have one.

“While on the surface it seems like the right thing to do and it seems like we’d be checking the box, in reality it isn’t going to affect any change," said Eric Delbert at L.E.P.D. Firearms and Range in North Columbus.

Delbert said he would rather see efforts to help law enforcement agencies improve the background check system. He said oftentimes during a check, no results come back and guns end up being sold to people who should not have passed the check if the right information had been entered.

“The problem is, and always has been, it’s only as good as the information put into it," he said.

Ohioans for Gun Safety has launched what's called an "initiated statute", meaning they will collect roughly 133,000 signatures to force lawmakers to consider their proposal. If the General Assembly declines, the campaign will need to get another round of signatures to put the idea directly on the ballot for voters to decide.

“We’re priming the pump for the legislature to work on this," Willard said. "If they don’t, we’ll go directly to the voters.”

The measure could be on the ballot as soon as 2020 and as late as 2021.

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