Protesters of permit-less gun bill show up at Ohio Statehouse

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COLUMBUS (WKBN) – A bill that would make it possible for anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit got another hearing at the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday.

This time, opponents of the bill were given a chance to testify against it.

The first to testify against the bill was Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach.

Sitting behind him were a sea of opponents to the bill wearing red shirts with white lettering — members of Moms Demand Action, who are present every time there is a piece of legislation dealing with gun rights.

They were also there on the other side of the building as state representatives laid out their plans for what they call “common sense gun laws.”

Much of what they proposed has been tried before at the Statehouse.

They want to create better background checks by closing loopholes, protect children from being able to access loaded weapons and develop a red flag law that will pass.

State Representative Bride Sweeney is taking a leading role in the red flag legislation. She has reached out to Governor DeWine’s office to see what she can do to work with them since the governor recently mentioned he wanted a red flag bill that could pass to be created.

She admits a bill that could pass likely wouldn’t be her ideal bill, but she is willing to compromise to get something done. She hopes Republicans are ready to do that, too.

“All of us are willing to work with gun rights activists because this is not an anti-gun, pro-gun, this is about common legislation that we want to target these people because nobody wants these individuals with guns,” Sweeney said.

When asked about the potential of working on a red flag law, Speaker of the House Larry Householder acknowledged one of the greatest sticking points of such legislation is dealing with the due process concerns.

Sweeney said she is willing to work to ease those concerns and emphasized there would be stiff penalties for people who abuse the law or falsely accuse someone of being a danger. That penalty could be a fifth-degree felony.

“I would be interested in hearing what her proposals are and, again, we’re more than willing to listen,” Householder said.

As for the permit-less carry concealed bill, Householder expressed some concern and said he has asked for it to receive additional scrutiny.

“Because there’s quite a bit of legalities to this bill, I’ve asked that that bill, probably as it leaves one committee, it goes to another, probably criminal justice, to have some additional hearings,” Householder said.

Students at the Statehouse Wednesday in opposition to the gun bill said they want it stopped and vowed to retaliate at the ballot box if their wishes were not heeded.

“If they don’t listen to us, then the consequences will be seen on Election Day in 2020 because I know my generation is done sitting around, seeing inaction on so many issues, especially gun violence,” said Lara Kowalcyk, a member of Students Demand Action.

However, that may be a threat not taken seriously because traditionally, despite being passionate about issues, young voters simply do not turn out to vote nearly as much as older voters.

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