Gun control a priority for Dems in Dayton state Senate race

Candidates aligned in ‘commonsense’ reforms shaped by Oregon District shooting

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The three Democrats running in the March primary for the Ohio Senate 6th District representing Dayton and much of Montgomery County have come out in favor of a slew of priority gun control measures recently put forth by the party.

The district’s new Democratic lean not only gives Ohio Democrats a rare chance to pick up a Senate seat, but it could also allow them to replace staunch pro-gun rights Republican incumbent Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg.

But the winner in the March 19 Democratic primary isn’t facing Antani, who’s running for Congress instead of seeking reelection to the Statehouse. They will face Ohio Board of Education member Charlotte McGuire, who is unopposed in the Republican primary and says she supports gun rights but also some gun control ideas put forward by Democrats.

The candidates in the Democratic primary are state Rep. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton; Dayton School Board Member Jocelyn Rhynard; and Kettering City Councilwoman Jyl Hall.


Blackshear recently introduced a bill to make it illegal to equip any semi-automatic weapon with a magazine that allows it to fire 31 or more times without reloading, unless the gun is a .22 caliber.

Blackshear said House Bill 433 restores Ohio’s pre-2015 prohibition on high-capacity magazines. The bill is a direct result of the 2019 Oregon District shooting that saw an assailant with a 100-round double-drum magazine shoot and kill nine people and injure dozens more in the space of about half a minute. The same bill was previously introduced years ago but was not moved forward.

“There is no reason to have guns equipped with magazines that can hold 50, 70, or even 100 rounds,” Blackshear said in a statement detailing his bill, which has garnered the support of his primary opponents.


Rhynard held a press conference on Thursday to pledge her support of gun control legislation.

“People all across Ohio, all across party lines, overwhelmingly support pro-safety gun policies, but lawmakers are unwilling to listen to them and take measures to keep our schools and communities safe,” said Rhynard.

Rhynard was joined by former Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, an advocate for stricter gun control and the man who led the Dayton Police Department through the Oregon District shooting and its aftermath. Following the shooting, Biehl turned particular attention to encouraging limitations on high capacity magazines. “We can’t win against weapons like that,” Biehl told this new organization.


Hall likewise said she has grown frustrated with the state’s unwillingness to enact gun control legislation.

“When you talk to parents (like me) in the Dayton region, we are constantly in fear for our children’s safety because of the problem of gun violence in schools and we expect leadership to do something about it and pass these bills,” Hall said.

All three Democratic candidates support measures recently introduced in the General Assembly that would declare gun violence a public health crisis; revoke the state’s permit-less concealed carry law; remove ways to evade background checks; make it illegal for a person charged or convicted of first degree misdemeanor domestic violence to possess a firearm; and create a task force to study gun violence in Ohio.

Biehl: ‘Do your job’

At Thursday’s event, Biehl noted that impactful gun control measures might continue to be stymied in the Ohio General Assembly and noted that the public might have to take it on itself in the same way citizens enshrined abortion access into the Ohio Constitution or legalized recreational marijuana last November.

“There is substantial support within the general public for many of these policies, it’s just that elected officials won’t move on that. Well, you know, the public showed that they’re willing to move on (issues) if they felt their basic rights are being threatened,” Biehl told this news outlet. “I do think the voice of the people has become very strong very recently, and we could see mobilization at a grassroots level to say, ‘We deserve better. Do your job.’”

Republican candidate responds

On the Republican side of the Senate District 6 race, McGuire said that while she believes in the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to defend themselves, she supports some of the Democrats’ gun control ideas.

“I’m for secured freedoms and safe communities,” she said.

McGuire explained that her views on gun control are informed by growing up in the segregated south under Jim Crow laws, a time in which it was particularly important for Black people to “have access, legally, to defensive tools to protect themselves and their families” — but noted that the legislature ought to take a look at to which extent the law restricts or enforces safety.

McGuire told this news organization that she’d be in favor of requiring concealed carry training and closing loopholes that allow individuals to buy a firearm without a background check.

She also noted that she’d be willing to consider banning high-capacity magazines. “We’re talking about military-type weapons,” she said. “Why would you need that for self and family and community defense? That’s the question we have to resolve.”

Follow DDN statehouse reporter Avery Kreemer on X or reach out to him at or at 614-981-1422.

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