Ohio Legislature Moving Forward with Second Amendment Bill
In Ohio, a bill known as House Bill 51, or the Second Amendment Preservation Act, is making its way through the State House. Proponents of this legislation argue that it’s essential for preserving the Second Amendment rights of Ohioans. However, as with many gun-related bills, it’s drawing strong opposition.
The primary aim of House Bill 51 is to ensure that Ohio residents are only subject to their state’s gun laws. This means that if there are changes in federal gun laws, it would be the responsibility of the federal government to enforce them, not local agencies. Ohio Speaker of the House Jason Stephens, a Republican from Kitts Hill, has emphasized the importance of this bill. He believes it’s crucial for safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of Ohioans.
One of the key provisions of this legislation is its prohibition on local law enforcement agencies enforcing federal gun laws that don’t align with Ohio’s Second Amendment laws. Any local law enforcement agency found in violation of this prohibition could face fines. The bill’s sponsors want to ensure that local law enforcement is not co-opted to enforce anti-gun bans or restrictions imposed at the federal level.
Representative D.J. Swearingen, a Republican from Huron, clarified the intent behind the bill. He emphasized that Ohioans should be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights without local law enforcement agencies aiding in the enforcement of federal gun bans. If the federal government wishes to enforce these bans, they can do so using their own resources without relying on local police.
House Bill 51 has gone through several hearings and is now in its 12th version. Notably, the most recent changes clarify that while the state will protect Second Amendment rights, local law enforcement will still have the flexibility to collaborate with federal agencies on task forces and enforce federal laws in certain cases. These cases may include drug-related offenses, violations of state law, and dealing with violent offenders.
Chair of the Ohio House Government Oversight Committee, Representative Bob Peterson, believes this version of the bill has made “significant improvements over the previous versions.” Nevertheless, opponents remain skeptical, given the challenges faced by a nearly identical bill in Missouri, which was recently ruled unconstitutional.
To this, Speaker Stephens responded, “That was Missouri; this is Ohio. The Second Amendment is very important in Ohio, and I think it’s important that we look at these issues and be thoughtful about them and make sure they will stand up to legal scrutiny.” The bill is expected to be voted out of committee within the next few weeks, with the goal of bringing it to the House floor for a vote in November.