Buckeye Firearms Association endorses HB450 (Armed Services 18-21 purchase); Bill passes out of committee

Buckeye Firearms Central Ohio Chair Gerard Valentino testified in favor of HB450 at the House Criminal Justice Committee hearing on Thursday April 17th. The bill, which will give veterans between the age of 18 and 21 the right to own a handgun, was voted out of committee and will now go to the House floor for a vote.

This common sense pro-gun legislation is likely to receive overwhelming bi-partisan support as it makes its way to the governor.

Buckeye Firearms Association is honored to announce our full endorsement of the bill as proposed. Veterans, who give their all to protect our rights, deserve to right to self-defense regardless of whether they are 18, 19, 20 or 35 years-old.

Following is the text of Valentino's testimony as presented to the committee:

Good Morning Chairman White and representatives. My name is Gerard Valentino and I am testifying in support of HB450 for Buckeye Firearms Association.

I served four years on active duty in the United States Army and three years in the Ohio National Guard. During that time, I was honored to serve with some of the best people the United States has to offer – many of those individuals were under the age of 21.

Although I never saw combat myself, many of the soldiers I served with were called to do so and did with distinction. To tell the soldiers who sacrificed everything and were entrusted with automatic weapons, or our nation’s vital secrets, that they aren’t trustworthy enough to own a handgun when they return to Ohio flies in the face of logic.

For people who have not served, the responsibility soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines put on the performance of their fellow service members can not be truly appreciated. Even in training there were many times a soldier under the age of 21 held my life in their hands and I trusted them completely. Combat hones that bond to a strength those of us who never experienced it could never truly understand.

If an 18, 19 or 20 year old soldier can storm an insurgent held building in Fallujah, or take part in a large live fire training exercise it is a disservice to that individual to tell them we think they aren’t responsible enough to own a handgun.

Their sacrifice to serve the American people, and the people of Ohio, should prove to everyone that they have what it takes to own a handgun and do so in a responsible manner.

During my time in the National Guard we had a Blackhawk Helicopter Pilot who was not yet 21 years old. Are we to believe that soldier had the ability, judgment and good sense to pilot a multi-million dollar aircraft but lacks the judgment to own a handgun?

We owe it to such individuals to honor their service and realize they have the right, and proper judgment, to the same type of gun that is legal for anyone over the age of 21 to own. I submit that soldiers serving in the military, of any age, have wisdom far beyond their years. Much of their experience is etched with the pain of combat, and the pain of watching their brethren overcome enormous obstacles, and far too often die right before their own eyes.

It is unquestionable that the young men and women I had the honor of serving with make up the best and brightest of what America has to offer. The same can be said of service members I never had the honor of meeting during my time in the military, or who are serving today.

They endure work-hours people years older couldn’t handle either physically or mentally, they thrive where others would shrivel, and deserve the right to defend their own life in any manner they choose. If that means they choose to own a handgun, then that is their right. A right they earned and a right they should have restored.

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