Ohio lawmakers want to protect guns during a statewide emergency. Is the change needed?

Ohio lawmakers want to protect guns during a statewide emergency. Is the change needed?

COLUMBUS – Ohio lawmakers want to make sure that no one takes your guns during a statewide emergency, such as a COVID-19 pandemic. Bill proposed by Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, and Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, would prevent the state or local goverments from closing licensed firearm sellers during a statewide emergency declared by the governor. During such an emergency, Ohioans could hunt, fish, go to shooting ranges, transport and carry their firearms. The proposal is backed by the National Rifle Association, which has introduced similar bills in states across the country . Lawmakers in the Ohio Senate passed a similar bill last year , but it never became law. Is the change needed? Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, never restricted access to firearms because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, gun sales rose nationwide during 2020 . "It’s creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist," said Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Democrat from Cincinnati’s North Avondale neighborhood. “Why are we creating more legislation that encourages people to carry firearms?” Kris Brown, president of the gun safety advocacy group Brady, argues that state leaders should have the ability to close businesses of any kind to keep their residents safe in an emergency; gun stores shouldn’t be exempt. "Why it would be that you would carve out this kind of exception in an emergency situation?" Brown asked. But Wiggam said Ohio must be prepared for the future. “While Ohio is fortunate to have a governor and legislature that did not […]

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