Group resubmits language for ballot measure to close background check loopholes

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – If at first you don’t succeed, fix the errors and redouble your efforts; that’s not how the saying goes but that is what Ohioans for Gun Safety did Tuesday. 

After submitting their original proposal for a new law that would close loopholes in background check requirements for the sale and transfer of guns, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost rejected the language used. 

According to the group, he was very specific about the reasons for his rejection and they dealt with two issues, the four exceptions they placed in the act and a need for greater clarification on how this would allow Ohio law to dovetail with Federal law. 

The group’s spokesperson Dennis Willard says it took the group’s lawyer about an hour to re-write those sections of the proposed law and they were back out on the streets trying to get signatures to resubmit it. 

One thousand verified registered voter’s signatures are needed to resubmit the proposal; the group gathered 1,700 signatures before sending it back to Yost. 

Willard says this new version of the act is much clearer and will help voters know exactly what they are supporting. 

As an example, the section that details the transfer of a gun between family members explains the exceptions to the background check requirement. A transfer between family members is now described as: 

“…A transfer that is a bona fide gift between spouses, between domestic partners, between parents and their children, between siblings, between grandparents and their grandchildren, between parents and children in law, between aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews, inclusive of family relationships by birth, step-relation, and adoption;” 

You may notice that cousins cannot transfer a gun to each other, but that is easily resolved by one of them transferring the gun to their parent who can then transfer it to their niece or nephew. 

Things get a bit more complicated if you want to transfer a gun to a more distant part of the family tree, often requiring grandparents get involved and the gun passing through several sets of hands before finally getting to the intended recipient as would be the case if you wanted to transfer your gun to your father’s cousin’s son or daughter. 

Despite all of that, the point of the law is to make sure that sales and transfers of guns between non-family members are subject to background checks; and in some cases that is not happening right now in Ohio. 

If the current language is approved by Yost, the next step will be to send it to the Ballot Board. 

Soon the group will begin seeking thousands of signatures and hope to gather 133,000 by the end of the year. 

They then plan to place the proposed act in front of lawmakers, along with the thousands of signatures of Ohioans who want to see the law created, at the beginning of 2020. 

According to Willard, the group plans to give lawmakers 4 months to figure it out from there. 

If the legislature does not act in the face of the displayed support, the group says it will then accumulate the rest of the needed signatures and place the matter on the ballot for voters to decide in November of 2020 or 2021. 

“From the beginning, we wanted this to be a very simple, straight forward, common sense petition and new law; and actually, we think this is even clearer now to voters, and that they’ll understand what they’re supporting and we believe this will ultimately be successful.” 

A summary of the proposed law can be found below along with the full text of what was submitted to the Attorney General Tuesday. 

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