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Mayor Whaley backs campaign for Ohio voters to decide on gun background checks

Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2019 @ 4:11 PM

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley endorsed the Ohioans for Gun Safety campaign Wednesday which would give universal background checks a second chance to appear on the November 2020 ballot. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley endorsed the Ohioans for Gun Safety campaign Wednesday which would give universal background checks a second chance to appear on the November 2020 ballot. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley endorsed the Ohioans for Gun Safety campaign Wednesday which would give universal background checks a second chance to appear on the 2020 ballot.

The Ohio chapters for “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” and “Students Demand Action” joined Mayor Whaley on Wednesday as all three parties said they would sign on to the campaign. The endorsement comes the week after Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision against asking the state legislature for a “red flag” law and instead said he wants to improve the existing system.

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The campaign is a citizen-initiated statute to try and get enough voter signatures to place the measure on the statewide ballot. If it qualifies for the ballot, voters decide whether to adopt the law. The process says 132,887 signatures from registered voters are required to present the statute to the Ohio General Assembly.

Ohio Governor Mike Dewine held a joint press conference with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley on Aug. 8 in the Oregon District to talk about mental health initiatives in the wake of the mass shooting that took place on Aug. 4. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Columbus Bureau)

Mayor Whaley said the measure does not conflict with Gov. DeWine’s proposal, but that the two efforts are in coordination with each other and can help each other.

Last Monday, the Republican governor called for a system to let people voluntarily run a background check before they sell firearms to someone in a private party deal. He also wants to mandate more timely, complete information be sent to existing background databases so that people who cannot lawfully buy a gun aren’t able to clear a background check.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ohio voters may decide on gun background checks

“If we had a legislature that actually listened to people, we would just ask them,” Mayor Whaley said. “Governor (DeWine) is moving his stuff, so he’s asking them. But really, the background check initiative will help compel the legislature. And really, that’s the only time we see any movement in the statehouse if you think about it. On criminal justice reform, now they’re talking about it because there was a ballot initiative. … It’s the only way you can get anything moved in a Republican legislature, is to do a ballot initiative. … When nine out of 10 Ohioans think we should have universal background checks and we know it saves lives, it makes sense that we would move forward.”

The Southwest Ohio region leader for Buckeye Firearms Association, Joe Eaton, said even if the measure did make it to the statewide ballot, he does not think it could pass.

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“The Buckeye Firearms Association has always opposed universal background checks,” Eaton said. “The main reason for that, is there’s simply no such thing as a universal background check because criminals will never go through this system. … It should have little chance (Ohioans for Gun Safety). We’ve heard this report of ‘90% support this.’ The problem with that is, it’s a very generic question that’s being asked. When you get into the details such as, ‘Should I be a criminal because I want to take a young man hunting and transfer them a firearm?’ … If they’re looking to pass universal background checks, if they want to make it a requirement only for criminals … that’s something that I can talk about.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

As Ohioans and lawmakers debate changes to gun laws in the wake of the Aug. 4 mass shooting in the Oregon District, tell us what you think on our Ohio Politics Facebook page.