COLUMBUS, Ohio (WMCH) — There are a few pieces of gun legislation moving through the lame duck session at the Ohio Statehouse.
“Gun safety legislation is always a priority for the Democratic caucus,” Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said.
One is Republican-sponsored House Bill 383, which would raise the penalty for illegally owning a firearm from a third-degree offense to a second-degree offense. There is also Democratic-sponsored House Bill 274 that would restore local authority over gun control.
Senate Bill 357 was introduced in August by Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). Since then, there have been significant changes to the bill, putting a focus on what happens before a firearm purchase and mental health.
“At its core, this bill is about public safety,” Dolan said. “At its core, this bill is about reducing the threat of gun violence.”
In August, the bill had a red flag law provision, which would allow law enforcement to seize a gun from someone with a severe mental illness, that Dolan has since taken out.
Right now, under Ohio law, there are five disabilities that prevent someone from buying a gun, ranging from being a felon to a chronic alcoholic.
Dolan wants to add a sixth disability to that list which would be determined from a “behavioral risk assessment.”
“If it is determined that the individual is a risk, that information goes to local law enforcement and gets into the system just like any other disability would show up,” Dolan said.
During the bill’s first committee hearing Nov. 15, he emphasized that a mentally ill person is not a violent person. Dolan said the assessment is about getting help for a homicidal or suicidal individual. The assessment can be done by someplace like a school or employer but does not put someone who owns a gun at risk of losing it.
“Just going through the pink slip laws wouldn’t necessarily capture that individual who’s going to commit suicide or homicide,” Dolan said.
“I’m not very optimistic that that’s going to go anywhere this general assembly,” Russo said.
The next hearing for Senate Bill 357 is scheduled for Nov. 29.