Ohio Senate committee to hear from gun legislation sponsors

By Mark Gillispie - Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio Senate committee will hear from Democrats and a Republican who are sponsoring legislation that includes expanding background checks for most firearm purchases and a “red flag” law designed to keep guns from people seen as a threat to themselves or others.

Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Cincinnati Democrat and member of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, said in an interview ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing in Columbus that there is little appetite in the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass guns laws like the ones he and others have proposed.

Republicans agreed to hold Tuesday’s hearing because of the mass shooting in August that killed nine people in Dayton, Thomas said.

“I’m not optimistic we’re going to get anything of significance done,” said Thomas, a retired Cincinnati police officer. “I’ve been through this exercise too many times.”

Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Dayton-area Republican, joined Thomas as a co-sponsor for bills on background checks and increasing the minimum age for all gun purchases from 18 to 21. Currently, Ohioans who are 18 and older can buy rifles, including military style AR-15s, which have been used in mass killings including the one in Dayton.

Lehner joined Sen. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, on a proposal to create a red flag law that would allow police or family members to seek a court order to remove firearms from those who appear to be a danger.

A message seeking comment was left with Lehner on Tuesday.

She tweeted after the Dayton shooting: “We must mourn today but take action tomorrow. I pray that my colleagues in the Ohio legislature will join me in passing long overdue common sense gun legislation as soon as possible.”

Another of Thomas’ bills calls for banning high-capacity magazines. The Dayton shooter’s AR-15 was equipped with such a magazine.

The Dayton shooting prompted Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to propose a series of gun-related measures that included asking the Legislature to expand background checks and approve a red flag law.

“We can come together to do these things to save lives,” DeWine said at the time.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said Tuesday that administration officials have been meeting with legislators and Second Amendment proponents to finalize legislative language that is constitutional, would have significantly affect Ohioans and would ultimately be approved.

House Speaker Larry Householder has said Republicans have concerns about background checks and the red flag law. Senate President Larry Obhof has said DeWine’s proposed red flag language has alleviated the concerns of many of his members.

By Mark Gillispie

Associated Press