With the ink on the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict barely dry, another state appears ready to consider a Florida-style "Stand Your Ground" law. Add to that legislation to ease restrictions on concealed handguns in the most unacceptable places, and a bill that would allow gun silencers.
This time it is Ohio's turn. And things are looking outrageous right now in the Buckeye State.
Three bills introduced in the Ohio legislature are at issue. The first is House Bill 203, which would bring "Stand Your Ground" or "Shoot First" to Ohio. If passed, the measure would allow a person to use lethal force without a duty to retreat. The legislation, which the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus opposes, is nearly identical to the Florida law implicated in the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Silencers to hunt birds?
Meanwhile, House Bill 234 would allow silencers – yes, silencers – "while hunting game birds and wild quadrupeds." Another piece of legislation, HB 191, would change the definition of an automatic weapon from a gun that fires over 31 rounds without reloading, to a weapon that fires multiple rounds with a single trigger pull. Gun control advocates such as Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence believe the motive for HB 191 is to ensure that there are unlimited rounds in a magazine.
But it gets worse. HB 210 would undermine public safety by prohibiting the police from destroying confiscated guns and bullets, and forcing law enforcement to sell the weapons and ammo to a federally licensed dealer. Alternatively, the police could sell the confiscated guns "for sporting use or as a museum piece or collectors' item."
And saving the best – or worst – for last, HB 231 is a particularly horrendous piece of legislation. Stand Your Ground is insidious enough, but this bill would lift the ban "against carrying a concealed handgun onto institutions of higher education, places of worship, day-care facilities, aircraft, certain government facilities, public areas of airport terminals and police stations, and school safety zones."
Guns in daycare centers and churches? Feel safer?
"If the nut cases can get in with guns, then the good guys need to be able to defend themselves and shoot back," said State Rep. John Becker, a sponsor of HB 191 and 210 and cosponsor of HB 231.
Rep. Becker has it all wrong. Perhaps the people we should really worry about are the lawmakers such as Rep. Becker who write bad laws that put our children in danger, enable more gun violence and sanction more senseless deaths.
"Given that Ohio is now losing jobs, and that the economic recovery has yet to impact most Ohioans, these bills just don't make sense," said State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cuyahoga and Lake Counties). "We should be working to find ways to invest in early childhood education or fund critical public services at the local level – some communities cannot even afford to keep the street lights on. These bills are just distractions at a time when our constituents are asking for real solutions," she added.
Ohio is a gun conduit
According to federal data released in June, Ohio is a gun conduit. The state is a leading source of guns used in crimes in other states, which, of course, the criminals love. In 2012, 1,601 firearms were purchased in Ohio and then tied to crimes committed in 36 states, including 183 crimes committed in New York. Another 5,375 guns were linked to Ohio crimes.
"People know they can come to Ohio, get a gun, and take it someplace where there are tougher restrictions," Columbus Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell told the Columbus Dispatch. "It happens at gun shows in the sticks and through underground schemes on city streets."
Meanwhile, gun control supporters believe that these ill-conceived laws will only create more Trayvon Martins. "It was about race and guns," said Toby Hoover of Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence concerning the George Zimmerman case. "If we want this to stop we will have to act to change these laws of violence."
With over 1,000 people killed by gun violence in Ohio each year, some reasonable solutions include mandatory gun registration; banning assault weapons, "cop-killer" bullets and high-capacity clips; promoting safe gun storage with a childproof gun law; keeping guns out of the hands of children through a juvenile possession law, and closing loopholes allowing unlicensed dealers to sell 40 percent of the guns in Ohio.
Yet, the Ohio gun bills coming down the pike are divorced from reality and common sense. They speak to the fringe extremism of the gun lobby, and the greed of the lawmakers under their control. But sensible people can stop this foolishness, and they must.
(Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove.)