DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Republican Senator Peggy Lehner and other lawmakers recall the destruction as they walked along Fifth Street in the early morning hours after the Oregon District shooting.
She drafted several bills that were meant to help prevent another tragedy, but one year later, she is frustrated and discouraged, saying it does not look like anyone is willing to act.
Lehner told members of her own party that stopping gun violence is pro-life; they shouldn’t wait for more bodies and more funerals in their home districts. But no one acted, then, or now.
“I don’t see them moving anywhere for the rest of this year. It’s tragic,” she said. “There isn’t the will to do it in the legislature.”
The bills to keep guns from unsafe people, raise the minimum age for buying guns, expand background checks, and close loopholes for unlicensed sellers at gun shows all died in committee and never got a vote.
“No one’s trying to take away guns from law-abiding, responsible citizens, we’re just looking to control ownership of guns from people who have a violent record or history of mental illness or exhibiting signs of mental illness,” Sen. Lehner said.
Less than 24 hours after the shooting, Governor DeWine was drowned out by chants to “do something.” His multi-point STRONG Ohio plan faced strong opposition so he changed tactics. Still, the plan went nowhere.
“He backed off a bit, and even with that he didn’t get the full hearings they deserved and certainly didn’t get a vote,” said Lehner.
Senator Lehner is pressing on, but says it shouldn’t take another shooting in Ohio to spur action.
“But here we had a horrendous one right at our front door and we didn’t even have support from the local public officials on it.”
Senator Lehner says former House Speaker Larry Householder was not supportive of the legislation and a possible change in leadership could signal an opportunity to move forward. When asked if any minds have been changed or stances softened, she responded, “Frankly, I don’t think so.”
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