Buckeye Firearms Assoc. announces strong opposition to HB 585 (Kasich Gun Control)

Editor's Note: The following has been submitted in response to the introduction of House Bill 585 (Kasich Gun Control).

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Re: House Bill 585

To the Esteemed Members of the Ohio House of Representatives,

Buckeye Firearms Association (“BFA”), for and on behalf of its state-wide membership, opposes House Bill 585 (the “Bill”).

BFA has prepared this brief as an initial response to the introduction of the Bill, detailing its various problems below.

1) RC 2923.11 (Weapons control definitions):

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1338-42 have no practical effect other than to mirror the federal definition of a "machine gun." The federal definition of a "machine gun" is found in 26 USC 5845(b):

The term “machine gun” means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

Lines 1344-47, however, have not been changed to reflect the federal definition of a "sawed-off
firearm."

Comment:

BFA opposes Lines 1338-42 because the Bill attempts to mirror federal law on the definition of a "machine gun," but has not done so with regard to a “sawed-off firearm.” Such selectivity reveals the arbitrary nature of this provision.

2) RC 2923.11 (Weapons control definitions):

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1394-96 add a new definition for "armor piercing ammunition."

The federal definition of "armor piercing ammunition" is contained within 18 USC 921(a)(17)(B):

The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

Comment:

BFA reserves comment on Lines 1394-96 at this time. Said provision will allow state authorities to enforce the corresponding aspect of federal law. The assumption is that Ohioans can't purchase this ammunition anyway.

3) RC 2923.13 (Having weapons while under disability):

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1498-99 are deleted to correspond with repealing RC 2923.14 (Relief from weapons disability);

Lines 1504,1507 expand the scope of firearms-disabled persons in Ohio to include any person convicted of ANY felony; and

Lines 1508-15 are removed because they are redundant after expanding scope of this Section to ANY felony.

Comment:

BFA strongly objects to the above referenced line items. These provisions would apply retroactively, making thousands of Ohioans disabled from possessing firearms overnight with the stroke of a pen. This law is fundamentally unfair on many levels.

The Second Amendment is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and courts have generally applied strict scrutiny where a law substantially burdens core Second Amendment activity. (See Sarah S. Herman, Post-Heller Second Amendment Jurisprudence, Congressional Research Service (Nov. 21, 2017)). For a law to pass constitutional muster under strict scrutiny, the State of Ohio would have to show that the law serves a compelling government interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.

Expanding the scope to include ALL felonies would necessarily include crimes such as the following (this list is non-exhaustive):

  • RC 2913.02 Theft: if total of items stolen is over $1000
  • RC 2907.09 Public indecency
  • RC 2915.02 Gambling
  • RC 2921.31 Obstructing official business
  • RC 2921.02 Bribery
  • RC 2921.11 Perjury

While this type of conduct is certainly not commendable, it is absolutely absurd to believe that individuals convicted of the above listed crimes (among all other newly expanded crimes) are a risk to the public with respect to firearms. Thus, there is no compelling state interest (risk to public) that is narrowly tailored to achieve the intended result.

Further, this law would place a state, firearms disqualification on non-violent, non-drug dependent individuals with ANY felony conviction from protecting themselves, or their family, even inside their own home. The practical manner in which Ohio law is set up, if a firearms-disabled person lives in a residence with other family members, children, etc., there cannot be a firearm in the residence without subjecting said individual to criminal liability. Thus, this law would affect everyone in a household where anyone convicted of a felony resides. Firearms are, in many instances, the only effective way to defend one's home from intruders or perpetrators in our present day and age. This law would effectively limit an entire new class of individuals to the bleak prospect of bringing a knife to a gun fight if they ever needed to defend themselves, or their loved ones, from death or great bodily harm.

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1530--31 further expands the scope of firearms disabled persons under Ohio law to include a person who has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions. BFA’s understanding is that dishonorable discharge may include, without limitation, being court-martialed for the following:

  • AWOL – A service member who is Absent Without Official Leave (“AWOL”) may be dishonorably discharged. To be considered AWOL, the individual must have intentionally left his or her post, or fail to return.

Comment:

BFA objects to these provisions. Again, the State of Ohio cannot show how this law is narrowly tailored to address a compelling need of the government, i.e. risk to the public. How are dishonorably discharged persons who have been court-martialed for AWOL a risk to the public?

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1530-34 would prohibit an alien from possessing firearm, pursuant to federal law; also prohibits further prohibits possession of a firearm by persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship.

Comment:

BFA has no objection at this point.

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1537-40; 1551-70 concern provisions with "extreme risk protection orders.”

Comment:

BFA objects to these line items at this time, but reserves further comment for a later date.

4) RC 2923.20 (Unlawful transactions in weapons):

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1683-89 prohibit persons from ANY purchasing of a firearm, not a bona fide gift, for a third party, regardless of whether or not the third party is lawfully allowed to possess a firearm.

Comment:

Buckeye Firearms Association objects. This law is concerning for a number of reasons. One reason, immediately apparent, is the purchase of a firearm for an individual who is physically disabled or suffering from some illness that cannot physically go to a FFL. In short, this law is not narrowly tailored to achieve a legitimate government interest.

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1708-23 provides an exception to certain persons.

Comment:

BFA objects. While seemingly couched in well intended theory, these provisions still must be taken within context. Further, the exceptions to said persons appear arbitrary.

BFA reserves further comment on this entire section.

5) RC 2923.14 (Relief from weapons disability):

Bill Provisions:

This Bill intends to repeal the entire code section of RC 2923.14.

Comment:

BFA strongly objects to this provision of the Bill. If the Bill were to pass, not only would ANY felony lead to a state firearms disqualification (see above No. 3), but there would be no mechanism to be relieved from Ohio firearms disqualification.

Other fundamental rights, such as the right to vote, are automatically restored under Ohio law upon final disposition of a felony sentence. The right to possess a firearm is a fundamental right secured by the U.S. Constitution (See District of Columbia v. Heller; McDonald v. City of Chicago) as well as the Ohio Constitution. Studies have shown that the restoration of civil liberties (such as the right to vote) upon completion of a felony sentence is correlated with decreased recidivism.
(See http://thecrimereport.s3.amazonaws.com/2/4a/4/1150/blog_mansfield_florid... further citations to be supplied). This concept is extremely important.

Under the same vein, the concept of rehabilitation, which is a fundamental pillar of criminal justice, presumes that individuals who have made past mistakes and committed crimes, can be effectively rehabilitated and not pose an ongoing risk to the public. RC 2923.14 gives courts in Ohio discretion to allow certain individuals to possess firearms, provided said individuals meet certain stringent requirements. BFA objects to the stripping of judicial discretion in this fashion.

If we, as a society, truly believe in the concept of rehabilitation as a fundamental precept of criminal justice (and we should), there has to be some avenue for a person to restore all fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitutions. Consider also that the right of self-defense is a natural, God-given right that predates our constitution. We are going astray with this Bill.

Individuals who have committed a firearms-disqualifying offense, at some time in the past, should have some mechanism to apply for relief from weapons disability because: 1) they have paid their debt to society; and 2) there should be some foreseeable and achievable end to punishment. This concept regarding the finality of punishment and penal rehabilitation serves the ends of criminal justice and is congruent with the founding principles of our great country.

6) RC 2923.23 (Voluntary surrender of firearms and dangerous ordnance):

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1755-61 remove the exception for prosecution under RC 2923.13 regarding evidence obtained in connection with an application to be relieved under RC 2923.14.

Comment:

BFA objects under the same principals as stated in No. 5 above.

7) Proposed Sections of the Ohio Revised Code, RC 3113.26 through 3113.30:

Bill Provisions:

Lines 1767-2392 provide for laws that allow court to issue an "extreme risk protection order."

Comment:

BFA objects to these line items at this time, but reserves further comment for a later date.

Sincerely,
Jim Irvine
President of Buckeye Firearms Association

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