Astroturf gun control group in Ohio pushing for "universal" background check ballot initiative

Ohio news media are gushing this week over a so-called "grassroots" gun control group in Ohio - a group which is promoting a "universal" background checks ballot initiative.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Ohio voters might have the opportunity to decide whether to require background checks for gun purchases at the same time they vote for president in the 2020 election.

Ohioans for Gun Safety announced Monday it is filing a petition that would effectively require background checks for all gun sales online and at gun shows.

The measure, entitled “An Act to Close Loopholes in Background Checks on Gun Sales,” is designed as an initiated statute.

That means supporters must gather enough valid signatures of registered Ohio voters to equal at least 3 percent of the total vote cast in the most recent gubernatorial election, roughly 135,000 signatures. The names must come from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties and represent 1.5 percent of the total vote for governor in each of those counties.

If the threshold is met, the General Assembly has four moths to consider the proposal. If it is not acted upon, fails to pass or passes in an amended form, the petitioners can mount a second petition drive to put the proposed law on the ballot. Another 135,000 signatures are necessary.

The proposal would add a “Weapons Control” section to the Ohio Revised Code that would require involvement of a firearms dealer in nearly every gun purchase and a background check.

There are several problems with this effort, not the least of which is that it is not being backed by any truly "grassroots" group of Ohioans.

As we've reported way back in 2017, this supposedly "new" group, calling itself "Ohioans for Gun Safety," is actually made up of the same old anti-gun rights crowd. And judging by their name, website structure, logo, colors, font, etc., billionaire former New York Mayor Michel Boomberg is the real wizard behind the curtain.

Again, from the Dispatch:

Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, is skeptical about the benefit the proposal, saying it addresses an issue that does not exist.

“There is no gun show loophole,” he said. “The rules to buying and selling guns at gun shows are the same to buy a gun at a gun store or out of the back of a car or a garage or anywhere else. The most common way criminals get their guns is stealing them. So what will this law do to stop those bad criminals from getting guns? Nothing.”

Irvine's point is born out in a survey released in January by the U.S. Department of Justice, which was cited in a recent article in America's 1st Freedom magazine:

Among prisoners who possessed a firearm when they committed the offense for which they were imprisoned and who reported the source from which they obtained it, the most common source (43 percent) was off the street or the underground market. Another 7 percent of state and 5 percent of federal prisoners stole the firearm, and 7 percent of state and 8 percent of federal prisoners reported that they obtained the firearm at the location of the crime. About a quarter (26 percent) of state prisoners and about a fifth (21 percent) of federal prisoners obtained their firearm from an individual in another non-retail setting, such as a friend or family member.

However, “Among prisoners who possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were imprisoned, 7 percent of state and 10 percent of federal prisoners serving a sentence in 2016 bought or traded for the firearm from a gun shop or gun store,” the analysis stated. “About 1 percent (.08 percent) bought or traded for the firearm at a gun show.”

Few criminals get their guns through the means this proposal seeks to address. And that is exactly why, according even to gun controllers themselves, these laws have failed to work. From another recent America's 1st Freedom article:

As Lois Beckett noted in The Guardian in 2017, we now have the results from a number of states that experimented with “laws requiring criminal background checks on every single gun sale,” and those results have proven extremely disappointing to their advocates.

Research “conducted by some of America’s most well-respected gun violence researchers,” Beckett reported, “concluded that the new laws had little measurable effect”—a result that represented “a setback for a growing gun control movement that has centered its national strategy” on replicating the success it has had in a handful of state capitals. The states to which Beckett was referring were Colorado and Washington, but those two are by no means alone in their failure. A 10-year study of California’s background check regime, conducted by the openly anti-gun Violence Prevention Research Program and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found “no net difference between firearm-related homicide rates before and during the 10 years after policy implementation.” Per the University of California-Davis, the California investigation “compared observed annual firearm homicide and suicide rates in California over 10 years following enactment of comprehensive background check and misdemeanor violence prohibition policies in 1991 with expected rates based on data from 32 control states that did not have these policies and did not implement other major firearm policies during the same time.” The result? “No change in the rates of either cause of death from firearms through 2000.”

So we know that the measure that is now being proposed here in Ohio won't address the real source of most criminals' guns, and thus won't prevent the crimes they commit with them. So why is the Bloomberg crowd still chasing it?

Because their real goals have nothing to do with crime reduction, but rather are aimed at eliminating the ban on gun registration, empowering the government to track every firearm in circulation, and, when those efforts don't work, demanding more and more and more gun control laws until the end result is a destruction of the Second Amendment.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Related Article:

Explaining the Objections to Background Checks

The Fake "Grassroots" Effort to Take Your Guns

"Universal" Background Check Legislation Targets Law-Abiding Gun Owners for Persecution

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