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As Lawmakers Return to Columbus for Session, Common-Sense Gun Safety Legislation Needs to Take Center Stage


As the Ohio legislature convenes for their 2023 legislative session this week, lawmakers must prioritize common sense gun safety measures as Ohio has some of the weakest gun laws in the country. The state lacks all the foundational gun safety laws, including background checks for all firearm sales, concealed firearm carry permitting, extreme risk protection orders, and secure firearm storage requirements. Ohio also has no laws prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing guns. This legislative session, lawmakers should prioritize passing these critical gun violence prevention measures and securing funding for lifesaving community violence intervention programs.  

Ohio lawmakers have put Ohioans’ lives in jeopardy by repealing basic gun safety measures over the last legislative session and passing dangerous laws. During the 2021-22 legislative session, Governor Dewine signed multiple senseless bills into law, including permitless carry which eliminated Ohio’s permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public, and a bill allowing teachers to bring firearms into learning environments with minimal training despite widespread public opposition. Republicans also introduced SB 357, legislation that falsely purported to strengthen the state’s background check system, and included a potentially harmful re-defining of “terrorism” to exclude extremist acts committed by US citizens, which could undermine efforts to combat violent extremism. Volunteers with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action tirelessly advocated against all of these bills and promoted foundational gun violence prevention measures. They will continue to advocate for these measures during the 2023 session.

Session begins shortly after a horrific injustice that highlighted the failure of Ohio’s Shoot First or Stand Your Ground law. On December 29th, all charges were dropped against Krieg A. Butler Sr. who claimed a Stand Your Ground defense after shooting and killing his 13-year-old neighbor, seventh grader Sinzae Reed. Charges against Butler Sr., who should not have been allowed to own a gun given previous domestic violence charges, were dismissed on the grounds of his claim of “self defense.” Ohio’s “shoot first” law gives people a license to kill, allowing them to use deadly force as a first option rather than the last resort, and then claim self defense, even in cases where there’s a safe alternative. Ohio should repeal their Shoot First law, and finally advance common sense gun safety laws that will help keep Ohio communities safe.

Here’s what you need to know about gun violence in Ohio:

  • In an average year, 1,602 people die and 3,753 are wounded by guns in Ohio.
  • Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in Ohio, and an average of 144 children and teens die by guns every year, of which 33% are suicides and 63% are homicides.
  • Communities of color disproportionately bear the burden of our country’s gun violence crisis every single day. Black people in Ohio are 15 times more likely than white people to die by gun homicide. 
  • In Ohio, 59% of gun deaths are suicide and 40% are homicides. This is compared to 59% and 39% nationwide, respectively. 
  • Gun violence in Ohio costs $1,904 per person each year. Gun deaths and injuries cost Ohio $22.3 billion each year, of which $493.7 million is paid by taxpayers.

More information about gun violence in Ohio is available here.