Ohio targeting gunmen, not guns

The following article was originally published by The Lima News. Republished with permission.

by Greg Sowinski

LIMA — As the gun control debate rages across the country, the head of one of the state's top policing agencies said Ohio is working to target the few criminals who commit the vast majority of gun crimes.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office is working with state leaders and agencies to identify the type of offenders responsible for most gun crimes to tailor new laws with tougher penalties, said Tom Stickrath, the superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

"This is strictly the criminals that are using weapons in a violent fashion and using them over and over again. That's really what we're trying to target. We're trying to identify who these people are who are using a weapon and maybe getting out of prison and doing it again," Stickrath said Thursday.

That effort in Ohio is much different than national proposals that include measures that would affect law-abiding gun owners. President Barack Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have proposed banning various semi-automatic rifles, including those called "assault weapons." Proposed measures also include limits on the number of rounds magazines can hold and background checks for all gun sales and transfers.

Stickrath said any legislation resulting from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's initiative strictly would be aimed at criminals.

"We're after that body of criminals responsible for a large number of violent episodes," Stickrath said.

During a 2012 speech in Lima, DeWine said he wants to create legislation to toughen penalties for using a gun during a crime, getting gunmen off the streets for a long time and into prison where they belong.

"There is a very small number of people in the state, as far as percentage, who are causing most of the homicides and most of this violence," DeWine said. "We're going to put some real teeth into that and really go after these individuals. ...We're going to put them away."

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