Republicans of the Ohio House introduced H.B. 51 on Feb. 15, a bill that calls to relax federal restrictions on firearms by removing all references to the National Firearms Act and stating that Ohio police departments are not required to enforce any federal law that can be considered restrictive.
Sponsors say that the contents of this bill are supported by the United States Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which states that any powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states respectively.
“The Ohio law enforcement agencies cannot be compelled to enforce unconstitutional federal gun control laws, executive orders, or agency rule interpretations,” said Republican State Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Cortland, in a statement to Spectrum News.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 imposes a tax on manufacturers, importers and dealers of firearms, as well as requires registration of firearms with the Secretary of the Treasury. Under the proposed H.B. 51, however, Ohio state and federal gun laws would be separated.
Critics believe that the bill violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, constituting federal laws as “the law of the land,” which Loychik doesn’t believe the bill challenges in the first place.
“It [H.B. 51] simply states that the state of Ohio will not help the federal government agencies enforce their gun control agenda,” Loychik said.
Other critics of the bill worry that it poses a danger to domestic violence victims and increases the risk of more crime rather than less.
“This bill is dangerous and radical, and it would be a death sentence for victims of domestic violence in particular,” said Adam Skaggs, Vice President and Policy Director at Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in a statement to Spectrum News. “The sponsors could have called this the ‘Guns for domestic abusers act’ among many other things; it would seek to actively stop state and local public officials and employees in Ohio from using their resources to protect most victims of domestic violence from armed domestic abusers.”
Advocates for gun control have taken to the streets to protest for a change in policy-making in the state of Ohio, where lawmakers have worked to expand gun freedoms for the last 10 years.
For example, volunteers and activists with Moms Demand Action, an American grassroots movement that advocates for victims of gun violence, protested in front of the Ohio Statehouse in March and even met with legislators to push for change.
High school students across the state, from Shaker Heights to most recently, Lakewood, have also initiated walk-outs to stand against gun violence and advocate for gun control not just in Ohio, but across the country, where mass shootings and gun violence have reached an alarming rate of frequency.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 165 mass shootings in the United States in 2023—barely 100 days into the year. In fact, seven of those mass shootings occurred this past Saturday alone, leaving eight dead and 51 injured.
The first mass shooting in the country this year took place in northeast Columbus, killing one and injuring four. Ohio has faced six total mass shootings in 2023, one of which took place in Cleveland, perpetrated by a man legally not allowed to possess a firearm, killing four of his family members and injuring one in January.
A shooting at Steelyard Walmart in Cleveland also left two injured earlier this month. Another shooting just outside The Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus killed one and injured another earlier this week.
H.B. 51 is currently under review by the House’s Government Oversight Committee.