COLUMBUS — A measure that would expand background checks on gun sales moved forward yet again after a thumbs-up from the Ohio Ballot Board.
The five-member panel unanimously approved the language of a proposal from Ohioans for Gun Safety that would effectively require background checks on all gun sales in Ohio.
The proposal came before the ballot board after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost approved the language last week, nearly a month after he denied the first draft of the language.
In this step of the initiated statute process, the panel's members had to decide whether the language of the proposed law contained only one law. Had it contained more than one law, the board would have split the language into two or more separate proposed laws.
The vote of the board did not involve any discussion of the merits of the proposal itself. Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, the vice chair of the board, said after the meeting that he thinks the proposal puts an unconstitutional burden on Ohioans' Second Amendment rights.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the board's chairman, declined to use language as strong as Obhof's.
"I'm going to hear both sides of this," he said. "I'm a gun owner myself, but there are also reasonable things that we can do to make sure that we create a safe environment in Ohio. Obviously, my role today was as the ballot board chairman, to make sure that we fulfilled our obligation of certifying this is a single issue."
Now that the ballot board has approved the proposed law, Ohioans for Gun Safety needs to collect 135,000 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters to send the proposal to the General Assembly. The legislature then has four months to deal with the proposal; however, it likely will let the proposal sit because Republicans in the legislature have recently pushed for pro-gun rights legislation.
After that four-month period, the group can start a new petition to get the proposed measure on the ballot. Another 135,000 valid signatures would be needed.
"The majority of Ohioans support background checks on gun purchases because they're simple, they work and they reduce gun violence and save lives," said Dennis Willard, a spokesman for the group. "We already have a large number of people signed up to volunteer and help collect signatures, and we believe that number will grow in the coming months."
The proposal, “An Act to Close Loopholes in Background Checks on Gun Sales,” states: “No person shall sell or transfer a firearm and no person shall purchase or receive a firearm” unless a firearms dealer is selling a gun, buying a gun or facilitating a purchase between two individuals who are not firearms dealers themselves.