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Ohio GOP lawmaker: Bump stock ban unneeded; you can use a rubber band
Bennett Leckrone Columbus Dispatch
(April 11, 2018) — An Ohio Republican lawmaker ridiculed a Democratic former police officer’s proposed ban on bump stocks Wednesday, saying rubber bands also could make a semiautomatic weapon operate much like an automatic.
Both measures that Democrats presented during a first hearing before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee received a grilling, even though both ideas are part of a package backed by Gov. John Kasich.
Sen. Cecil Thomas, a retired Cincinnati police officer, made a case for Senate Bill 219, which would ban bump stocks — a gun modification that can increase the firing rate of semiautomatic weapons.
“There is no conceivable reason why any individual needs to use a bump stock,” Thomas said. He introduced the bill in the wake of this past October’s Las Vegas shooting, but Republicans who control the legislature kept it from receiving a hearing until now.
The Las Vegas shooter, who killed 58 and injured hundreds, used a bump stock, law-enforcement officers in Las Vegas have said. The shooter was able to fire more than 1,100 rounds in less than 10 minutes. He said that because bump stocks help create what is essentially an automatic weapon, they are in violation of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, which banned the sale of machine guns.
Thomas’ view was challenged by Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, who said a semiautomatic weapon could easily be made into an automatic by wrapping a rubber band around the trigger.
“The same thing that you’re worried about with a bump stock can be done with a rubber band,” Coley said.
Another gun-control bill — to create a “red flag” law — would allow the preemptive seizure of the guns of individuals who are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. It also drew concern from Coley.
Senate Bill 278, introduced by Sens. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, and Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, would create “extreme risk protection orders” and allow guns to be seized via a judge’s order for no longer than 14 days before a hearing.
Schiavoni said the legislation could prevent mass shootings and also suicides, which make up nearly two-thirds of U.S. gun deaths.
“Family and household members are often the first to see the signs of danger but are left without legal recourse to effectively intervene,” said the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Guns would be held for no longer than a year if the order was issued, Schiavoni said. He also addressed concerns over whether the bill could violate due process, saying the legislation was modeled after Ohio’s current domestic-violence laws.
Coley said such provisions already exist in Ohio’s involuntary civil commitment process: “This bill very well may be unnecessary.”
Schiavoni, however, said the individual would still have access to guns after released from a hospital.
Williams said several states have enacted red-flag laws, including Florida and Rhode Island, since the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Meanwhile, the Ohio House voted 89-1 to allocate $10 million in noncompetitive, one-time grants for school resource officers training, the purchase and installation of school safety devices and educational and mental health resources for all grade levels.
“House Bill 318 is a critical, common-sense step forward to enhance school safety and better protect our most precious resource—our children,” said Rep. John Patterson, a Democrat from Geauga County who co-sponsored the measure.
Representatives from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, attended the Senate hearing.
“Gun violence prevention is an issue that crosses party lines, and the vast majority of Ohioans — including Ohio gun owners — support taking common-sense steps to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories,” Maureen Washock, a volunteer chapter leader for Moms Demand Action, said in a statement. “Ohioans are asking our leaders to take meaningful action to improve public safety, and lawmakers have an opportunity to do just that by passing the sensible proposals suggested by the governor’s bipartisan commission.”
Chris Dorr, director of Ohio Gun Owners, said such bills “are a direct punishment on law-abiding gun owners for the actions of madmen killers who don’t obey laws.”
In an email to supporters, he said, “The only force strong enough to stop these outright assaults on our freedoms is us, the thousands of law-abiding gun owners across Ohio.”