Our view: Hellbent lawmakers are doing 'something' about gun violence – making it worse

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  • Mike DeWine
    Mike DeWine
    American politician in Ohio (born 1947)
Two women embrace near the scene of a shooting involving a U.S. marshal in the 2700 block of Fourseasons Drive in southeast Columbus. Members of a task force were serving a warrant at a resident when gunfire was exchanged and the marshal and another individual were shot. The marshal was transported to an area hospital and is expected to survive. The other individual was shot and later died.
Two women embrace near the scene of a shooting involving a U.S. marshal in the 2700 block of Fourseasons Drive in southeast Columbus. Members of a task force were serving a warrant at a resident when gunfire was exchanged and the marshal and another individual were shot. The marshal was transported to an area hospital and is expected to survive. The other individual was shot and later died.

We live in a world of rules.

You need a license to drive a car, to hunt a deer and to take fish from Ohio's waters.

The FCC licenses TV and radio stations, and peaceful protests and demonstrations often require permits.

If Ohio Republican lawmakers have their way — and chances are good that they will — no license will be required to carry a concealed gun.

A week before Christmas, and as the homicide rate from gun violence soared in Ohio cities, the Republican-lead Senate voted to remove almost all requirements for carrying a concealed weapon.

More: Opinion: Passage of gun bills misses the mark when it comes to Ohio's priorities

The maleficence came just weeks after the House passed a similar bill and just days before schools here and across the nation notified parents about a TikTok challenge threatening schools with gun violence.

House members will battle it out with senators over which version goes to the governor to sign or reject one.

We urge Gov. Mike DeWine to veto whichever version comes to his desk and send a message that he intends to do something to curb gun violence — a pledge he made following the 2019 Dayton mass shooting that saw nine people mowed down by bullets within minutes.

The bills come as gun violence increases.

More: Here's where homicides have occurred in Columbus

Ohio's homicide rate grew 38% between 2019 and 2020, according CDC information the Pew research Center analyzed.

This year surpassed 2020 as the deadliest year in the history of Columbus more than a month ago with the shooting death of 23-year-old Eric Washington Jr. in the 3500 block of Fremont Street.

More: For second consecutive year, Columbus sets new record for homicides

There have been more than 190 homicides so far this year in Columbus. Shooting was listed as the cause of all but a handful of them.

Nationally, there were 21,570 homicides in 2020, up 29% from 16,669 in 2019, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.

Firearms were involved in 77% of homicides in 2020.

Mid-year, the 2021 homicide count was outpacing last year's count, according to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a coalition of the nation's largest police agencies.

To date, DeWine and Republican lawmakers have clearly taken the Dayton crowd's cries of "do something" following the massacre in the wrong direction.

Two women hold hands as Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children held an anti-gun violence rally and march at Columbus City Hall in August.
Two women hold hands as Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children held an anti-gun violence rally and march at Columbus City Hall in August.

They have done something alright — just the opposite of what those who want less gun violence had hoped for.

More: Opinion: Stand your ground a dangerous smoke screen that should be repealed in Ohio

People debated, will he or won't he? But the governor ultimately added his John Hancock to the controversial "stand your ground" measure after lawmakers from his own party declined to give serious consideration to the fairly comprehensive plan he introduced following the mass shooting.

“We owe it to the victims. We owe it to the families and to all Ohioans to finish the job and get this done,” DeWine said a year after the murders and with few of his changes implemented. “I am committed.”

Also up in the air is House Bill 99, which would inexplicably and inexcusably reduce the amount of training a school employee would be required to receive to be legally armed in a school, on a school bus or at a school activity.

Like school districts in many other states, those here can decide whether staff can carry firearms or not. To be armed at school, teachers, custodians and bus drivers currently must complete about 728 hours of peace officer training.

More: Concealed carry, guns in schools: Two major gun bills win approval in Ohio House

That would drop down to 18 hours of general training and two hours of handgun training if the bill passes.

Ohio first passed its CCW law in 2004. More than 700,000 Ohioans are currently licensed.

A woman holds an unloaded revolver during a concealed carry class at New Prospect Church in Roselawn in 2020.
A woman holds an unloaded revolver during a concealed carry class at New Prospect Church in Roselawn in 2020.

If DeWine signs the Senate's "permitless carry law," anyone 21 years or older who is legally allowed to own a firearm would be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio.

The requirement that they take a class first to do so legally would be dropped, as would the requirement for a gun owner to "promptly" inform law enforcement that they're armed.

Gun owners would face a second-degree misdemeanor if they didn't disclose that they were armed when asked by a police officer.

Ohio's Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Mayors Alliance and Democrats in both chambers are among those opposed to the Senate bill and the simpler one proposed by the House.

More: Our view: Lawmakers flash 'shiny objects' instead of doing real work

There is a big difference between being anti-gun and wanting reasonable gun laws.

Ohioans get it, even if our lawmakers' actions demonstrate otherwise.

Ninety percent of Ohio voters who took part in a 2019 Quinnipiac Poll supported universal gun background checks.

"We believe that passing this bill will increase violent crime, it will increase police-involved shootings, and more innocent victims being caught in the crossfire," Ohio Mayors Alliance Director Keary McCarthy told the Dispatch after the Senate bill passed.

Let's hope that DeWine finally does something and takes a stand against lawmakers hellbent on making Ohio less safe.

Editorials are The Dispatch Editorial Board's fact-based assessment of issues of importance to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff members, who strive for neutrality in their reporting.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Editorial: Ohio lawmakers hellbent on making gun violence worse

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