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Northeast Ohio state rep. introduces bill requiring background checks for all gun sales in state

The bill would close the so-called "gun show loophole."
Credit: Ohio House of Representatives

An Ohio state rep. from Independence has introduced a bill that would require all gun sales in the state to be subject to a background check following two U.S. mass shootings this past weekend.

Rep. Phillip M. Robinson Jr.—whose sixth district represents Southeast Cuyahoga County—is sponsoring House Bill 317, titled the "Protect Law Enforcement Act" (PLEA). If enacted, the law would close "the current loopholes in law that allow many guns sales to occur without a background check."

Said Robinson in a Thursday statement:

"To reduce violent crime and deter self-harm, we need to keep guns out of the hands of minors, felons, criminals and domestic abusers. Closing the loophole in the background check process will help end easy access to guns by those who should not have guns and anyone who would sell them firearms. This approach not only makes everyday Ohioans safer, but it aides and protects our local law enforcement. For each person that poses a danger with a gun that doesn’t have one after failing a background check, that’s one less crime scene where an officer or civilians could lose their lives. Police officers deserve to feel safe and secure on the job so they can do their jobs and keep our communities safe."

Nine people were killed and dozens more injured after a gunman opened fire outside a Dayton nightclub early last Sunday morning. The attack occurred less than 24 hours after another mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people died.

Since the events of this past weekend, multiple lawmakers (mostly Democrats) have renewed calls for increased gun control throughout the country. Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also signaled his support for universal background checks during a Tuesday speech, with exceptions made for gun sales between family members and "certain other limited sales." However, it is unknown if the GOP-led General Assembly will take up his proposals.

Though federal law already requires licensed dealers to perform background checks, Robinson's bill would require the same for private an unlicensed dealers, closing the so-called "gun show loophole." Robinson claims the law would not inconvenience gun owners, as "every Ohioan lives within 10 miles of a gun dealer, with 2,284 unique gun dealers in the state":

“The vast majority of Ohioans support expanding background checks. This is not just what will help keep us safe, but it is what the people want. PLEA is a plea to support law enforcement’s efforts to keep dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands. It is a plea to help keep children, students and families safe. It is a plea for the  commonsense gun safety reform that Ohioans want.”

A recent poll indicated 90% of Ohioans support universal background checks for firearm sales. Rep. Adam C. Miller from the 17th district (Columbus area) has been named as a co-sponsor of the bill.