Sen. Dolan's "STRONG Ohio"-Lite is still an abysmal piece of gun control legislation

Having apparently learned nothing from having come in third in the race for his party's nomination for U.S. Senate in May, so-called Republican Matt Dolan is now pressing to cement his poor reputation among voters by pressing for yet another version of "STRONG Ohio."

In this latest version, Dolan removed the "red flag" provisions that sought to take citizens' firearms without due process, perhaps finally realizing these provisions were a complete non-starter among his fellow Republicans. But many anti-Second Amendment provisions remain.

From the Dayton Daily News:

Under Dolan’s bill, sellers in private gun sales — those outside federally licensed firearm stores — can protect themselves from liability by asking buyers to get a $10 certificate from their local sheriff affirming the purchaser is able to buy a gun.

This concept may appeal to some people in theory, but it rests on the promise that it remains truly voluntary, with protections in place so that a seller is not exposed to civil or criminal liability.

Here are two big problems with this idea, as documented in our original legal analysis of "STRONG Ohio:"

1. The Bill provides that the Dept. of Public Safety shall not issue a certificate until the background check is "complete" but does not define "complete" and does not provide a procedure for checks that remain delayed under NICS or other systems.

2. What is considered an unlawful transaction in weapons in R.C. 2923.20 is redefined so that the “mens rea,” or knowledge of wrongdoing, changes from “recklessly” to “negligently.” This is a big deal. "Reckless" means disregarding a known risk. "Negligent" means not recognizing a risk when a reasonably prudent person would have.

The practical effect of this is that the "voluntary" background check system will become de facto mandated because sellers will not want to risk criminal liability via negligence, with the penalty nearly doubling, increasing to 3 years in jail for negligently selling to a prohibited person, not to mention increased exposure to civil liability.

And speaking of liability, the latest version of SB 357 bill would, among other things, unconstitutionally strip 18-21 year-old military-aged adults of their Second Amendment rights unless they can get "permission" from someone 25-years or older - a big ask in today's litigious society.

Ohio law already prohibits people under age 21 from buying handguns, he said. His bill would add that under-21 buyers of other guns would need a cosigner age 25 or older.

That's right - under Dolan's bill, adult Ohioans who are eligible to bear arms while fighting and risking their lives for our country would be prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment rights unless they get permission from someone 25 years or older. Aside from the sheer offensiveness of this provision, one can only imagine how hard it would be to find someone willing to assume the liability of co-signing under this bill, no matter how well they know the person who comes asking.

Speaking of offensiveness, Dolan's bill also takes a crack at those less-fortunate Ohioans who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Again from the article:

Dolan said police told him a crackdown on “straw purchases” — someone buying a gun on behalf of another person who’s prohibited from doing so — would be a big help.


Police also said some people on public assistance are prominent among straw purchasers, making cash on the side in exchange for aiding in illegal gun buys, Dolan testified. His bill adds a box to gun-purchase paperwork to ask if buyers are on public assistance, meaning they’d risk losing benefits if caught in a straw purchase, he said.

This provision is a yet another example of an over-reaching government targeting an entire class of people when only a few are causing a problem. This smacks of the kind of discrimination that led the City of Toledo to pass a ban on so-called "Saturday Night Specials" - i.e. less expensive guns that lower-income people can afford. (The Toledo law resulted in only a handful of convictions in its first three years, but no-doubt kept countless residents from being able to afford a handgun.)

The fact is, straw purchases are already illegal, and yet rarely prosecuted. Dolan is delusional to think that making something that is already illegal more illegal will make a difference.

As we have pointed out repeatedly, the problem is not a lack of laws, the problem is a lack of enforcement of those laws.

There should be no more talk of new laws which will only punish the law-abiding. Instead, those who are truly seeking to make a difference should focus their efforts on ensuring that government entities fairly, consistently, and regularly use the crime-fighting tools they already have.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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