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Hundreds of moms come to Statehouse to demand stricter gun laws

(March 21, 2018) — Hundreds of advocates for stricter gun control converged Wednesday on the Statehouse to meet with lawmakers in support of Gov. John Kasich’s proposal for stricter gun policies.

Some also attended a news conference with Democratic state Sens. Joe Schiavoni, of Boardman, and Sandra Williams, of Cleveland, to support their proposed “red flag” legislation that would allow guns to be seized from people who are deemed a risk to themselves or others.

“We want to see an end to gun violence,” said Maureen Washock, leader of the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety. “It is time that we take control away from the NRA and give it back to the people of Ohio. Instead of more guns in more places, we need more bills like this.”

The proposed legislation would allow for family or household members to ask police to seize an individual’s guns, with a judge allowed to order that the guns be taken for up to 14 days before a hearing is held. After that, the judge could issue an “extreme risk protection order,” allowing the person’s guns to be held for up to a year. During that time, the person would not be able to obtain or own guns, and the protection order would appear in the National Instant Criminal Background check system.

“By creating an extreme risk protection order, red flag legislation will give Ohio law-enforcement officers an important new tool they can use to protect our communities from gun violence,” Williams said.

Seven states currently have some type of red flag law: California, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, Indiana, Florida and Rhode Island. Florida and Rhode Island passed their laws in the wake of the deadly Parkland, Florida school shooting, in which 17 were killed Feb. 14.

Kasich’s proposal includes a call for a red flag law in Ohio. Such proposals also have support from President Donald Trump.

“I like taking the guns early,” Trump said shortly after the Parkland shootings. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Questions about due process with such laws have been raised by some, including Jim Irvine, board president of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

“Before you get to defend yourself or say anything, you should not lose your rights,” Irvine said in a previous Dispatch report. “It’s a violation of our Fourth Amendment.”

Schiavoni said the bill isn’t a violation because it mandates a court hearing. He likened it to Ohio’s current domestic-violence laws, which allow a protection order to be issued, with a court hearing afterward. He said the aim isn’t just to prevent mass shootings, but also to curb gun violence and suicides.

Washock said she doesn’t view gun reform as a partisan issue, and that members of her group are both Republicans and Democrats.

“This is a piece of legislation that we really feel everyone can get behind,” she said.