DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — After New York’s “good and substantial reason” requirement to wear and carry a firearm was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Maryland and other states are now revising and loosening their regulations. Right now, all eyes are turning to Ohio Senate Bill 351.

Otherwise known as the Defend Our Children Act, Senate Bill 351 would increase the age at which Ohioans can buy a firearm, but it would also adopt the state’s first “red flag law.”

“Before the trial, before legal jury procedure and court procedure, it takes away their right to the second amendment without no due process and I oppose that,” said Sen. Niraj Antani.

Senate Bill 351 is being met with opposition from some senators, including Sen. Antani who said it violates every Ohioan’s right to due process.

The red flag law process begins with a petition from law enforcement, family member or household member to a state court demanding temporary removal of firearms from someone deemed to be a danger. After the petition is filed, the court will then hold a hearing with the concerned parties. If clear and convincing evidence is found, the order is granted to confiscate weapons, sometimes without any prior notice to the person in question.

“Before the judicial process, before they’re waiting to hear from a judge, to me that is unconstitutional and wrong and I would oppose it,” said Sen. Antani.

One of the senators that introduced the bill, Sen. Cecil Thomas, believes red flag laws operate the same way as search or arrest warrants, allowing judges to make decisions prior to having a hearing. 

“Common sense policies such as universal background checks and a red flag law will help keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Sen. Thomas. “We can’t stop working to address gun violence.”

Senate Bill 351, which is co-sponsored by all Senate Democrats, combines several gun reform proposals previously introduced by Senate Democrats and will:

  • require background checks for all firearm transfers (currently Senate Bill 73 – Thomas);
  • raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 (currently S. B. 74 – Thomas);
  • enact a Red Flag Law to allow the courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people considered at risk for themselves or others (currently S. B. 138 – Williams);
  • prohibit negligent storage of firearms and authorize an income tax credit for the purchase of firearms safety storage units (S. B. 279 of the 132nd General Assembly – Sykes and Tavares);
  • add a mandatory three-day waiting period for all gun purchases;
  • increase funding for Ohio Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports grants and expand the program to include all grades.

Moms Demand Action Ohio say they are in favor of the bill and released a statement:

“These laws can help prevent suicides, mass shootings and domestic violence gun deaths, and the just-passed Federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides $750 million in much-needed funding over the next five years to support crisis intervention services, including the implementation of state Red Flag laws. The bill will also unlock a well-established existing funding stream to support the implementation of Red Flag laws.”

Kristine Woodworth, Ohio chapter leader

Senate Bill 351 is currently sitting in the Senate’s Rules and Reference, it has not been referred to a committee. If approved, Ohio would join 19 other states and D.C. that enforce red flag laws.

To read the full bill, click here.