BFA-backed Ohio constitutional amendment threshold inches closer to passage
Under current law, the Ohio constitution can be amended when an issue is placed on the ballot and voters approve by a simple majority. In other words, Ohio's founding document, the keystone of our entire legal system, can be changed by one extra vote in the affirmative.
While the goal may have been to give "power to the people" and enshrine democratic principles in our state, the reality is much different. In the real world, money talks. And ballot issues are almost always won by whoever has the most money. So a wealthy individual or a political group with deep pockets could put an issue on the ballot, spend millions on advertising to voters, and change Ohio law forever.
Imagine billionaire, anti-gun crusader Michael Bloomburg flooding Ohio with a pile of cash to enact an AR ban, a red flag law, gun registration, or any number of gun control measures. You really don't need to imagine because this was happening right before the 2020 COVID shutdown, when paid activists were busy gathering signatures to put so-called "universal background checks" on the ballot.
These are the stakes in the effort to raise the voting threshold to 60% to approve changes to the Ohio Constitution. It's about protecting our rights and shielding our state constitution from big money meddlers so that we're not subject to the fickle political whims of the moment.
To accomplish this, two things must happen. First, House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) and Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2), the resolutions to raise the vote to 60%, must both pass in their respective chambers. Second, Senate Bill 92 (SB 92), a bill to make an Aug. 8 election possible, must pass and be signed by the governor.
Here's where we are:
- The Senate has passed SJR 2 on a vote of 26-7.
- HJR 1 has passed out of its House committee and is headed to the floor for a vote.
- SB 92 has passed the Senate 25-8 and has been introduced in the House.
So it's now up to the House to pass HJR 1 and SB 92, and the governor must then sign SB 92. Resolutions do not require a signature. It's a heavy lift and it must all happen quickly for the amendment to finalize the process and appear on the ballot in August.
And even then, because this would be an unexpected election, turnout will be vital to make sure the measure passes.
Buckeye Firearms Association has been front and center on this herculean effort, lining up votes at the Statehouse and coordinating the efforts of a variety of interested organizations who seek to protect Ohio's Constitution and prevent it from being sold to the highest bidder.
In addition to BFA, proponents include Ohio Right to Life, Sportsmen's Alliance, Ohio Restaurant Association, American Center for Law & Justice, and others.
Ohio media have been shamelessly touting this issue as a threat to democracy, but it is exactly the opposite. It is about preserving our rights and making sure that voters broadly support changes to our constitution.
If we're able to get this 60% vote threshold amendment on the ballot in August, it will be vital that you vote for it. The future of our Second Amendment rights, and other rights, hang in the balance.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, former #1 NRA Recruiter, and host of the Keep and Bear Radio podcast.