Backers of gun background checks won’t try for 2020 ballot


COLUMBUS (AP) — A gun safety group seeking a change of state law in Ohio to require background checks on virtually all guns sales said Friday that it now plans a 2021 ballot issue.

Ohioans for Gun Safety was cleared in July to begin collecting signatures for a proposal to close loopholes in background checks on gun sales, including transactions between private individuals. The group needs nearly 133,000 signatures from registered voters in at least half of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The group said in a statement that the announced timing falls within its goal of getting the issue on the ballot as soon as next year but no later than 2021.

Should the petition advance, it would first ask Ohio lawmakers to enact universal background checks that would include few exemptions. If lawmakers decline, the petition could be presented directly to voters.

“We’ve decided that, for a variety of reasons, we believe moving forward with 2021 as our goal will put us in the best position to close the current loopholes in Ohio’s laws and save lives,” said Dennis Willard, a spokesman for the group.

He said volunteers have already collected tens of thousands of signatures.