In Ohio, selling or providing a handgun to anyone under 21 is illegal, yet headlines claim it's easy for a child to get a gun

by Chad D. Baus

Ohio Revised Code 2923.21 says it plainly - it is illegal in Ohio to sell or furnish a handgun to anyone under 21 years of age, and it is illegal to sell or furnish a firearm of any kind to a person under 18 years of age. It is also illegal to sell or furnish a firearm to another person if the seller knows or has reason to know that the firearm is intended to be provided to an under-age person. Violating this law is a felony of the fifth degree, punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $2500 in fines.

It is also illegal to steal a firearm. It's illegal to take a firearm on school property. And of course it's illegal to shoot people with it.

Yet despite all of these gun control laws, if you just landed here from Mars last week and read the headlines, you'd be led to believe the State of Ohio's laws are so loose we might as well be selling guns in school cafeteria vending machines.

Consider the following headline from The Washington Post:

"Why it is easier for a kid to get a gun in Ohio than in many other states" we know it was in all ways illegal for the 17 year-old Chardon, OH high school spree killer to be in possession of the .22 caliber gun he used to commit his crimes, but yet the author of this article claims "the state's gun laws don't make it hard for young people to get their hands on a gun."

How much harder can we make it beyond banning it entirely, as we have already done?

According to the gun ban extremist organization quoted by this Washington D.C.-based author (who, given her city of residence, ought to know a thing or two about the impotence of gun bans and gun control laws in preventing criminal behavior) "Ohio's weak gun laws make it very easy for children to get access to handguns."

The organization used as a source in the article, the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, claims that "Ohio allows kids easy access to guns at home" because "Ohio has no requirement that gun owners safely store guns to keep them away from children." The group claims there are 27 states that have laws which "that require gun owners to secure guns so kids can't get them." The group also states that because "Ohio has no requirement that private sellers conduct a background check on gun buyers," this means "a teenager could buy a handgun from a private seller, including at a gun show, with no background check, no questions asked."

So if the Brady bunch are to be believed, a minor who has decided to violate any number of felony gun control laws is going to be prevented from gaining access to a gun by making a few more things illegal. Got that?

But how is that working out in some of the states on that list of 27? Consider Minnesota, where in 2005 a 16 year-old murdered his grandfather (a police officer) in his sleep with a .22 caliber pistol, stole his grandfather's firearms and murdered his grandfather's girlfriend before going to school and killing seven people on the school campus. According to MSNBC, Minnesota has a law making adults liable if it is determined that children were able to access their firearms, whether or not the child uses the firearm to cause injury.

And according to Wikipedia, there have been three school shootings in the past two years in Texas, another state that has a child access prevention law the Brady bunch claims Ohio needs.

Another headline that deserves some consideration is the following from MSNBC:

"Why gun owner in Ohio school shooting won't be held accountable"

In this article, the author asks "will there be legal consequences against the owner of the handgun used to kill three people and injure two others?"

I have yet to read an article suggesting that the owner of a stolen car that was later used to commit a crime should be held liable, or suggesting that there should be laws dictating how the car (a 3000lb deadly weapon) should be stored in order to prevent unauthorized access.

Why aren't the "car control" groups quoted in the article, suggesting that the manufacturer of the car this particular troubled youth used to drive to Chardon high school that day (assuming for the sake of the analogy that he drove in that day) should be held liable as well?

The truth is, despite there being a Constitutionally-protected right to bear arms, arms are treated far differently than any of the many other items (items not Constitutionally-protected, by the way) used by killers as weapons in the commission of their crimes. Only when guns are used by criminals is it demanded that innocent people be held responsible.

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

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