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New Ohio group calls for common sense gun laws

(September 7, 2017) — Holding a framed picture of his son Kenny, Kevin James told the story of how his child was struck down about seven years ago as an innocent victim of gun violence.

Kenny was shot and killed late Oct. 14, 2010. He would have been turning 30 this year.

“That in essence was the worst day of my life,” James of Cleveland said.

James was speaking during the campaign announcement of Ohioans for Gun Safety, a new grassroots organization aiming to bring “common sense background checks” for gun safety to Ohio.

“It is too easy to get a gun,” James said. “We need to get these guns away from people who are intent on doing harm.”

Kenny’s killer had prior convictions in Ohio and other states, James said.

“If a background check was done, my son more than likely would still be alive today,” James said.

People have been working more than a year to launch Ohioans for Gun Safety, said David Eggert, a founding member of Ohioans for Gun Safety.

“We don’t have a sentence, we don’t have a paragraph,” Eggert said. “We don’t have anything written yet. We have a goal, common sense background checks for gun safety in Ohio.”

Ohioans for Gun Safety is going forward as a ballot initiative, and more than $31,000 has been raised for the organization through nearly 50 house parties in the last few months, Eggert said.

“Gun violence is not a political issue,” said Anne Wallace, a psychologist from Cincinnati. “At heart, it’s a health and a safety issue.”

Dr. Jonathan Groner, trauma medical director and a surgeon at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, supports Ohioans for Gun Safety.

“There are too many guns around,” Groner said.

A conversation about gun violence needs to start happening around the state, he said.

“I used to be fairly lucky in the pediatric world that this was not an everyday or every week thing,” Groner said. “Now it pretty much is.”

Gun owners including Neil Moore are in favor of Ohioans for Gun Safety.

“Common sense gun safety is as basic as it gets,” Moore, a veteran of the United States Navy, said.

Jim Irvine, board president of Buckeye Firearms, is curious what Ohioans for Gun Safety means by “common sense.”

To Buckeye Firearms, common sense is doing what will cause the least amount of deaths involving innocent human life, Irvine said.

He also said the majority of gun-related deaths cited by organizations like Ohioans for Gun Safety are suicides.

“What we have is a mental-health problem,” Irvine said.