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Senate Democrats Roll Out Legislation to Prevent Gun Deaths

By The Senate Democrats
December 12, 2023
The Democratic Standard

Far too many Ohioans die from gun deaths each year. In the United States, around 80% of all homicides and over half of suicides involve guns, and this nationwide public health crisis is on the rise, with 2020 bringing the United States’ highest recorded rate of gun deaths in over 25 years. The Ohio General Assembly has a responsibility to work towards bipartisan solutions that seek to end this increasing cycle of violent death by guns.

The Senate Democratic Caucus seeks to address some of the systemic problems related to gun deaths through a series of impactful pieces of legislation. The bills currently being proposed cover a broad range of gun death prevention and gun safety issues, including safe storage, disarming domestic abusers, and suicide prevention.

The loss of life to guns in Ohio requires commonsense solutions. The first step is to incentivize the safe storage and handling of firearms. That is why Senate Democrats have introduced Senate Bill 188 and Senate Bill 189. These bills recognize that having guns in your home drastically increases the risk that you or your loved ones, especially children, may die due to an accidental shooting. S.B. 188 provides the opportunity for responsible gun owners to store their firearms with regulated dealers or shooting range owners. S.B 189 incentivizes Ohio gun owners that practice safe storage and safe handling of guns through an income tax break.

Disarming domestic abusers is also an effective solution to reducing gun deaths and should be a priority for the legislature. During an average month in the United States, 70 women are fatally shot by their partners. Last year in Ohio, 27 of our counties experienced fatal instances of domestic violence. S.B. 187 will remove the ability for domestic abusers to lawfully possess guns under Ohio law. The bill will harmonize Ohio law with federal law, which already bans the possession of guns by anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. It is important to remember that, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, domestic abusers are not among those afforded full Second Amendment rights. 

Another top priority in reducing gun deaths is suicide prevention. Guns are the most lethal method of suicide and Ohio’s suicide rate is higher than the national average. S.B. 164, also known as the Suicide Self-Defense Act, is a simple way to prevent suicide deaths. The bill would allow Ohioans to choose to delay the purchase of or temporarily suspend their possession of guns by voluntarily adding their name to a “Do Not Possess” list. This measure would protect lives and expand Second Amendment rights.

As we continue the conversation around gun safety and preventing gun deaths in Ohio, we hope to build bipartisan consensus around these bills as a step toward reducing gun violence and deaths in Ohio.

Watch the press conference on this legislation featuring Assistant Minority Leader Hearcel F. Craig, Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio, and Senator Vernon Sykes here