Sen. Matt Dolan Pushes Red Flag, Gun Owner Permission Slips, and Universal Background Checks
Here we go again. Senator Matt Dolan, sponsor of the failed SB 221 "Strong Ohio" gun control bill from the last legislative session, has introduced a new bill with some of the same ill-conceived ideas.
SB 357 presents what can only be described as "Strong Ohio 2.0," a leaner version of his previous bill. However, it regurgitates ideas we opposed in SB 221, including "safety protection orders" and "seller's protection certificates."
The bill also introduces an insulting and likely unconstitutional new "co-signer requirement" for 18-21-year-olds to purchase firearms.
Here are three of the proposals in SB 357 as described in Dolan's news release from August 18, 2022, followed by my plain English translation:
Due Process Safety Protection Order
SB 357 will protect the public by helping those believed to be a danger to themselves or others due to a severe mental health condition and will develop a process to retrieve firearms from those legally prohibited from possessing them. In cases where there is evidence that guns are accessible to an individual deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others because of a severe mental health condition, this bill will allow the probate judge to issue a safety protection order directing local law enforcement to retrieve and temporarily hold the firearms. The retrieval process will protect constitutional rights and will be conducted with a focus on law enforcement safety.
Translation: SB 357 introduces a red flag law to authorize authorities to seize firearms from individuals who have not been found guilty of a crime.
Co-signer requirement for 18–21-year-old to purchase firearms
SB 357 does not ban any purchase of firearms for those 18-21 years of age. However, other than the purchase of a rifle or shotgun that holds only a single round of ammunition, a co-signer 25 years of age or older must accompany the 18-21-year-old buyer of a restricted-access firearm and sign an affidavit of limited responsibility with the purchase. The co-signer can be held civilly liable if that purchased firearm is used or brandished during the commission of a felony offense while the buyer is under the age of 21.
Translation: SB 357 prohibits law-abiding individuals who are 18-21 years of age from purchasing firearms without a permission slip.
Seller’s Protection Certificate
SB 357 creates a seller’s protection certificate for private gun sales. Sales do not include the transfer of the firearm to a family member. This permits a seller to require the purchaser to receive written clearance from a county sheriff confirming no legal disability is present.
Translation: SB 357 sets up de facto Universal Background Checks via the threat of potential civil liability for private firearm sales.
Currently, Dolan's bill has no co-sponsors. And we sincerely hope no legislator will become one. This bill infringes on Second Amendment rights. Plus, with Ohio's General Election just weeks away, it could be political suicide to sign onto gun control policies that couldn't even make it out of committee in the last General Assembly.
Let's put our cards on the table. Yes, Dolan has voted for a variety of pro-gun bills, including permitless carry. And in his campaign to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, he promised to champion gun rights. But instead of protecting or advancing the Second Amendment, he chose to sponsor a massive gun control bill. I can only assume this was a cynical bid to pick up liberal or moderate voters, and he hoped conservative voters were too dumb to notice his abandonment of a core conservative principle.
The result? He lost his primary in May.
And what has Dolan learned from this fiasco? Apparently he believes that if you fail with a big bad idea, you can win with a smaller bad idea. But that's not going to work out for him.
Whether it's "Strong Ohio" or "Strong Ohio Lite," a bad idea is a bad idea. This is especially true given there are better ideas to combat violent crime, like, say, hiring more police, targeting those who are actually committing violent crimes, prosecuting these violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law, and keeping them in prison for long periods of time so they don't get back on the street and commit more violent crime.
The lesson Dolan should have learned is this: Gun control is NOT crime control. And Ohio voters know the difference.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.