"Mentor man's guns are confiscated after he calls police for help" - More proof of need for Restoration of Rights legislation

by Chad D. Baus

While Restaurant and Car Carry Rules Fix legislation has garnered almost exclusive attention of the media and the gun ban lobby in Ohio, another piece of important pro-gun legislation has also been passed by strong, bi-partisan majorities in the Ohio House and Senate.

HB54 and SB61, Ohio's Restoration of Rights legisation, will align Ohio law with federal statutes regarding the restoration of rights to Ohio firearms purchasers.

Due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has stopped accepting Ohio's court orders restoring a citizen's right to own firearms. The purpose of this bill is to update Ohio's statutes to address this issue and protect Ohio citizens' legal rights under the law.

Ken Hanson, Legislative Chair of Buckeye Firearms Association, has explained the need for the legislation as follows:

"Someone who has been legally buying firearms, in some cases for many years after they received a legal Ohio restoration, may suddenly discover that he or she is back under a firearm disability because Ohio's restoration of their firearm rights was not deemed complete by Federal authorities. The proposed bill realigns Ohio's law with new Federal enforcement rules to effectively get the same result that has been working in Ohio for years."

Before the House passed House Bill 54 (Restoration of Rights), Republican Reps. Ron Maag and Jarrod Martin sought to put a face on the issue.

In his testimony, Martin told his colleagues that "we've actually had police officers who have found themselves unable to own a gun because of this Supreme Court ruling, and subsequent BATFE review of Ohio statues."

Rep. Maag shared an example of a man who was found guilty of two misdemeanor drug convictions when he was 18 years old. The convictions carried fines of $100 and $50. But unbeknowst to him at the time, the resulting penalites he would have to endure later in life would be far greater.

Maag went on to explain that the young man entered the Navy after two years with a clean record. He later became a Navy SEAL, and then a SEAL Team Sniper and a medic. He was decorated for valor in combat. Maag said, "his duty was done, and he came home. Every SWAT team in Ohio would love to have him, and that's what he wants to do. However, because of the way our laws are today, he cannot have a gun."

Maag concluded his remarks by saying "I think we need to protect Ohio citizens and let this guy be a SWAT Team member." (Click here to view and listen to an archive of the floor debate.)

The reason this legislation passed with such strong, bi-partisan majorities in both the House (78-18) and Senate (27-5) is that these types of examples are more common than many realize. Consider this example, from just last week:

Mentor man's guns are confiscated after he calls police for help

A Mentor man had his guns confiscated and faces a felony after he called police for help.

David Laurenty, 28, called police Tuesday, saying that someone had stolen from him and his housemate.

When officers arrived at Laurenty's house, they found 13 guns -- five handguns and eight shotguns and rifles. However, Laurenty is not allowed to own firearms because he was convicted of a misdemeanor case of drug abuse in 2007, Mentor Police Lt. Ken Zbiegien.

According to Ohio law, a person cannot own a gun if they've been convicted of drug abuse, even if it's only a misdemeanor, unless a judge approves it, Zbiegien said.

Laurenty admitted the guns were his.

"He didn't know he couldn't possess them," Zbiegien said.

Police arrested him and charged him with a felony county of possessing weapons under a disability. In this case, the "disability" is Laurenty's previous conviction.

Laurenty was arraigned Wednesday morning in Mentor Municipal Court. Judge John Trebets set Laurenty's bond at 10 percent of $60,000, which Laurenty did not post.

If convicted, Laurenty could face between one and five years in prison.

We are thankful that both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly have passed legislation to deal with issue, and encourage quick action to move one of the bills to the governor's desk.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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