Portman, Chabot among Ohio Republicans to back federal gun safety legislation

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Sens. Rob Portman, left, and Sherrod Brown attend an event with President Joe Biden at United Performance Metals in Hamilton in May.
Sens. Rob Portman, left, and Sherrod Brown attend an event with President Joe Biden at United Performance Metals in Hamilton in May.

A handful of Ohio Republicans joined Democrats in Congress this week to pass the biggest federal gun safety legislation in nearly three decades after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school provoked renewed calls for action.

The bipartisan package includes $15 billion for mental health and school security services, as well as grants incentivizing states to enact red flag laws. It also expands background checks for gun buyers 21 and younger and prevents more domestic violence offenders from buying guns, closing the so-called boyfriend loophole.

The measure now heads to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

Here's how Ohio lawmakers voted.

U.S. Senate

Both GOP Sen. Rob Portman and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown voted "yes" on the bill. Portman was one of 10 Senate Republicans who agreed to back the measure earlier this month, ensuring that it could clear the chamber with all 50 Democrats voting in favor.

Portman, who is retiring after this year, said the vote was proof that "both parties can work together to make progress on difficult issues." He was also a lead negotiator for the bipartisan infrastructure deal signed into law last year. 

In a call with reporters before Thursday's vote, Brown said the bill didn't address all Democratic priorities but marked important progress on the issue.

"A young man shouldn't be able to go into a gun store on his 18th birthday and buy a weapon with essentially no background check, with essentially no waiting period," Brown said.

U.S. House

Democratic Reps. Joyce Beatty of Columbus, Tim Ryan of Warren, Shontel Brown of Warrensville Heights and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo all supported the legislation.

They were joined by four Republicans: Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, Mike Turner, R-Dayton, Anthony Gonzalez, R-Rocky River, and Dave Joyce, R-Chagrin Falls. Gonzalez is not running for reelection and was one of few Republicans to back a more extensive gun control bill approved by House Democrats earlier this month.

Turner's hometown was the site of a mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of nine people in 2019.

“By providing additional resources for school security and to combat our nation’s mental health crisis, the bipartisan gun safety legislation that passed today will help to make our children, our schools and our neighborhoods safer, while at the same time protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans,” Chabot said in a statement. “Compared to the bill offered by House Democrats which did nothing to protect our schools and instead trampled all over the Constitution, this legislation is a major victory for those who believe, like I do, that we can both make our country safer and protect our fundamental rights.”

Ohio's remaining GOP U.S. representatives opposed the bill.

USA TODAY contributed.

Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Gun safety deal: How Ohio Republicans, Democrats in Congress voted