CLEVELAND (WJW)– Monday’s mass shooting in Colorado is intensifying the debate over gun control and changing federal gun laws.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called for Congress to reinstitute a nationwide ban on assault-style weapons.
“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” the president said from the White House before a visit to Ohio.
Federal lawmakers made certain semi-automatic weapons illegal for 10 years between 1994 and 2004.
“These kind of high-profile cases are terrible but, you know, mass killings with rifles are actually one of the smallest category of murder… The vast majority of murders in the United States happens with handguns,” said Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association.
He said he believes a federal assault weapon ban would be ineffective.
“When we’re using the term ‘assault weapon,’ that’s a term that’s only used by gun control enthusiasts… These guns are just ordinary rifles basically. They’re no more powerful than a hunting rifle, often less powerful than hunting rifles,” Rieck said.
“Why do we need that kind of a weapon in civilian hands, when it is made to spray-fire. It’s made to do a lot of damage, shoot a lot of people in a short period of time and you don’t even have to aim, you just have to keep pulling that trigger,” said Toby Hoover. founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
The organization was created after her first husband was murdered.
“After Sandy Hook and all those children being shot and then after the high school down in Florida, and we just… We had something right here in Dayton… You keep adding all these things and each time, you think, well, this is it, this will make the difference,” Hoover said.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing that was scheduled before Monday’s tragedy to discuss two bills passed by the House, enhancing background checks. Here in Ohio, many on both sides believe trying to ban assault weapons would be even tougher.
“This is the kind of bill that could lose you an election. So I’m doubting they’re gonna have enough support to pass this in the Senate,” Rieck said.
“People are starting to just normalize this behavior and so that makes us just hang in there and say we have to keep fighting for change,” Hoover said.
Both organizations we spoke to actively lobby legislators here in Ohio, for or against, issues related to gun control.
Currently in Ohio, state lawmakers are considering what’s called “extreme risk protection orders,” similar to “red flag” laws in other states, where someone’s guns can be taken away temporarily, if they might be a threat to themselves or others.