Ohio lawmakers introduce bill requiring universal background checks for gun purchases

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two state representatives are pushing legislation that would require all firearms transactions to be processed by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Rep. Phil Robinson (D-Solon) and Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) introduced House Bill 317, titled the “Protect Law Enforcement Act,” or PLEA, on Wednesday.

Click here to read H.B. 317 in its entirety

They argue that the bill would close the current loopholes in law that allow many guns sales to occur without a background check.

“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,” Rep. Robinson said in a press release.

Current federal law requires licensed dealers to perform a background check at the time of purchase.  PLEA would hold unlicensed dealers in Ohio to the same standards as federally licensed dealers.

HB 317 would also make Ohio a point of transfer state, meaning that a background check would be required at the time the transaction is conducted. Private sellers would complete transfers at either a federally licensed dealer or with their local law enforcement who already conduct background checks.

“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,” added Rep. Robinson.

The bill’s sponsors argue that this requirement would not inconvenience unlicensed sellers or buyers.

“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,” said Rep. Robinson. “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.”

The bill was presented just days after a mass shooting in Dayton left nine people dead and dozens injured.

HB 317 also comes one day after Governor Mike DeWine called on the state legislature to add background checks for all firearm sales in Ohio. The governor outlined a 14-point plan to do so Tuesday morning during a press conference.

Data from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control indicates that every year, more than 1,400 Ohioans are killed with guns and thousands more are shot and injured.

Continuing coverage, here.

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