A bipartisan group of local and state politicians has formed to encourage people to work together on gun safety legislation although gun rights advocates instead want more of a focus on mental health measures.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat; state Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Kettering Republican; and Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith, a Democrat, launched the “Do Something” campaign on Friday in the Oregon District, where a gunman killed nine people and injured 27 others on Aug. 4.
The campaign “should be a call for all of us to set aside our differences, our parochial interests, our politics and work together to act against these horrific acts of violence,” Lehner said. “Unless we are content to wake up everyday wondering which store, which church, which mall, which restaurant, we must do something.”
“Do Something” has become a rallying cry after the crowd at a candlelight vigil for victims of the Oregon District mass shooting chanted it at Gov. Mike DeWine as he spoke. DeWine has introduced a variety of proposals that he said will help curb gun violence.
The most recent version of his plan includes voluntary background checks on private firearm sales and expansion of the “pink slip” process of three-day involuntary mental health hospitalizations to include drug and alcohol abuse.
Leaders of the sate legislature have had “intensive” conversations about DeWine’s proposals, Lehner said, and although the final language is not as strong as many had hoped, it has a more realistic chance of passing than other measures.
Not everyone supports passing legislation to restrict guns. Such efforts don’t address the problem, said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association. Gun control is a failed concept that politicians who are more interested in advancing their political careers tend to push, he said.
Mental health problems that plague society should be addressed first, Irvine said. In addition, he said, cities should get rid of gun-free zones to allow people to better protect themselves.
“We can’t put police everywhere, and we aren’t going to always get the awesome response like we did in the Oregon District,” Irvine said. “So get rid of the gun-free zone and allow the people who are already carrying firearms to protect themselves and others around them.”
The idea for the “Do Something” campaign has been in the works the past few months. When Keith saw a sign recently, he contacted Whaley and got involved. They printed hundreds of signs they are encouraging residents to put in their yards, and those residents should encourage their neighbors to display them as well.
Too often when mass shootings happen, Keith said communities mourn for a few weeks and lawmakers make promises to do something, but nothing happens. The campaign and the signs will keep the issue in the forefront, the group said, and pressure politicians to pass stricter gun laws.
“We have a lot of promises, we have heard a lot of expression of condolences and sorrow,” Keith said. “Now we are calling for action, action to stop these senseless killings need to happen now, in Columbus and in Washington.”
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