By The Associated Press

Confront gun culture

Toledo Blade. February 21, 2024: The change in political leadership in Michigan has allowed that state to take action to restrict gun ownership to those who can handle them responsibly.

Would that Ohio had the same political will.

Earlier this month, Michigan’s new slate of gun laws took effect. If properly enforced, they will help narrow the instances in which the wrong people can acquire guns that can rapidly fire high-velocity bullets.

Under new Michigan gun laws:

  • Anyone who wants to buy a gun must now pass a background check.
  • Gun owners must safely store all firearms and ammunition in the presence of minors.
  • Family members, police, mental health professionals, roommates, and former dating partners may petition a judge to remove firearms from people whom they believe pose an imminent threat to themselves or others.

There was a brief attempt by the governor of Ohio to implement a red flag-type law in Ohio after a mass shooting in Dayton in 2019 that killed nine people and injured 27. The proposal was rebuffed by the Ohio General Assembly and did not resurface.

Our country is awash in guns, legal and illegal. Gun manufacturers make twice as many guns each year now as they did in 2010.

Someone who wants a gun in this country can buy one easily in a sporting goods store if they do not have a criminal or mental health record that might be an obstacle. But people who do face criminal or mental health obstacles can still find ways to get them, such as by having a friend or family member buy the gun or by acquiring a stolen firearm.

Even people who should be on a do-not-sell list have been able to buy weapons.

The man who fatally shot three emergency responders outside Minneapolis on Sunday was barred from buying guns in 2008 because of past assault convictions. Yet he was barricaded in a house with an arsenal of weapons and plenty of ammunition. How?

Minnesota has the 14th most stringent gun laws in the country, according to the gun violence prevention organization Everytown. And yet three heroic first responders were killed by a proven violent and well-armed individual who was not supposed to have guns.

In Kansas City, a joyous Super Bowl celebration was marred on Valentine’s Day by a deadly mass shooting arising from an argument by two armed young people who had never even met before.

We have a gun problem in this country. The problem is that gun ownership rights trump all other rights. All the rights, privileges, and liberties that we enjoy in this country are subordinated to the right of mass shooters and irresponsible young people to obtain semiautomatic weapons for which they have no legitimate need.

Michigan has taken a step toward curtailing the excessively easy availability of guns.

Ohio should have a governor and a General Assembly that does the same.


Ohio lawmakers, stop dragging your feet on marijuana

Youngstown Vindicator. February 22, 2024: Ohio lawmakers cannot ignore the will of the people much longer. Gov. Mike DeWine was right this week to ask them to stop dragging their feet on implementing rules for legalized recreational marijuana, which voters approved more than three months ago.

“What we don’t want to do is see a big black market expand in the state of Ohio with absolutely no control when people don’t know what they’re buying. So again, we need the Legislature to take action …” said DeWine, according to a report by WKRC-TV.

Ohio House Bill 86 would allow recreational marijuana to be sold, and it would increase the sales tax rate for it to 15%. But it is stuck in the General Assembly.

As WKRC’s report notes, the Ohio Division of Cannabis Control has also proposed new rules to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to apply for dual-use licenses. That way, they could sell recreational marijuana, too.

One can understand there may be some lawmakers who opposed the ballot measure.

It doesn’t matter. Their job now is to enact what the voters of Ohio said they wanted. Ohio’s Senate understood its job and passed its version of a bill in December.

But for members of the House, it seems the concept is a little tougher.

In mid-February, Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, told reporters “It’s a complex issue.”

Perhaps, but not nearly as complex as to warrant stalling to keep Ohioans from getting what they voted for.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether the lawmakers in the House agree with what voters decided. It wasn’t up to them. DeWine is correct that their petulance could end up being dangerous. It’s time for lawmakers to get over their perceived defeat and fulfill their responsibility to Buckeye State residents.