Senate Pres. Obhof Introduces SB 360 to Prohibit the Closing of Firearms Dealers in an Emergency

Senate President Larry Obhof has introduced Senate Bill 360 to protect firearms dealers.

Specifically, the bill bars public officials from prohibiting all federally licensed firearms dealers in the state or a specified geographic area from the commercial sale or transfer of firearms or their components or ammunition.

President Obhof is the Primary Sponsor and Co-Sponsors include Senators Peterson, Hottinger, Brenner, Johnson, Roegner, Rulli, Schaffer, and Burke.

Here is Obhof's testimony to the Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Sept. 1, 2020:

Sponsor Testimony on Senate Bill 360
Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee
September 1, 2020

Chairman Coley, Vice Chairman Huffman, Ranking Member Craig, and members of the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to provide testimony on Senate Bill 360.

The purpose of this bill is straightforward: it would prohibit any public official from issuing an order closing down licensed firearms dealers on either a statewide or regional basis.

State and local governments throughout the country have spent the last several months grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we have seen countless inspiring stories of Americans working together in the face of adversity to combat the Coronavirus. However, one of the ways that States initially responded to the pandemic was to close many businesses and enter “stay-at-home” orders in order slow the spread of the illness. Whatever the merits of that approach may or may not be, there is no “emergency exception” to protecting peoples’ constitutional rights.

The governors of several States – including Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania – issued orders earlier this year that excluded licensed firearms dealers from the list of “essential” businesses that were allowed to operate during stay-at-home orders or other Coronavirus-related orders. Los Angeles County, the City of Austin, Texas, and other local governments took similar actions to close firearm stores on a local level. While many of these shutdowns have been successfully challenged in court, Americans should not be forced to resort to litigation in order to exercise their right to self-defense.

It bears pointing out that here in Ohio, Governor DeWine’s administration was respectful of the Second Amendment and did not attempt to force licensed firearms dealers to close. This bill would ensure that no future governor, appointed officer, or local official could do what the current administration has not.

This legislation does not interfere with the usual processes of zoning and licensing that firearms stores must go through under current law. Rather, Senate Bill 360 would simply prevent statewide or regional closures like we saw with other types of businesses during this pandemic. It is similar to language passed by the Senate in House Bill 272, which would prevent statewide or regional closures of churches and other houses of worship.

This has been a difficult year for our State and our nation, and there is still much work to be done to combat and recover from the COVID-19 outbreak. We must be mindful, however, that we do not face these challenges in a vacuum. We face them before the backdrop of the peoples’ inalienable rights. Ensuring the right of Ohioans to defend themselves and feel secure is a vital part of our work.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify on this legislation. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.

Buckeye Firearms Association wishes to thank President Obhof for his leadership on the protection of lawful firearms commerce, especially at a time when leaders in many states are ignoring the Second Amendment and closing gun stores. We support this bill and encourage committee members to move it with a sense of urgency.

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