As gun debate re-emerges, 7 findings from our recent reporting on gun laws

Ohioans have easy access to firearms and accessories and state lawmakers have worked for years to increase where guns can be carried and who can carry concealed weapons.

Gun control advocates point to the 17 people shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida as the latest proof that more legislation is needed. Many are planning a National School Walkout protest for March 14 to call for reform.

Gun rights activists meanwhile say they support measures to make schools safer with teacher training and mental health programs, but that more gun restrictions aren't the answer.

QUIZ: Do you know Ohio's gun laws?

The Dayton Daily News has covered the gun control debate for years as Ohio's gun laws have evolved and after high-profile tragedies such as the Las Vegas shooting and Sandy Hook.

Here are some key take-aways from our coverage:

1. Teachers in many schools are armed

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones made headlines this week when he offered concealed carry training to school personnel. A growing trend in recent years has been for school districts to allow certain teachers and staff to have access to firearms in school. In April, we reported that 32 teachers and staff at Mad River Local Schools are part of such a program.

2. People can take their guns to work

new state law that went into effect last year prohibits companies from banning handguns on company property, meaning concealed carry permit holders can keep guns in their locked car. The law also expanded the ability to carry concealed weapons in schools, colleges and universities, child care centers and airports.

3. “Assault rifles” can be bought sans background check

The Parkland shooter legally purchased the AR-15 -- often referred to as an "assault rifle" -- after passing a background check despite having mental health issues. Among the responses to the shooting are calls for increased background checks. Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently reversed his position on gun control and called for universal background checks.

Background checks are required in Ohio when buying guns from licensed dealers, but not from private individuals. After the Sandy Hook shooting, reporter Josh Sweigart negotiated the purchase of a semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round-magazine at a local gun show without any sort of background check.

We also reported in 2013 that guns can easily be found online. One popular website had 8,879 guns for sale in Ohio from private sellers, meaning they could be sold without a background check. Ohio had more guns advertised on the site than any other state.

4. Guns used to kill police often obtained illegally 

In the wake of the recent killing of two Westerville police officers, we analyzed on-duty officer deaths and found that many of the accused cop killers obtaiend weapons despite having prior convictions prohibiting them from getting firearms. One reportedly used the so-called "gun show loophole" while others had someone else buy the gun for them.

5. Bump stocks are legal in Ohio

Modifications are also available to get semi-automatic rifles weapons to fire more rapidly. After the Las Vegas shooting, we reported the modification used to increase the shooter's rate of fire is legal and available in Ohio. 

6. Few local shootings involved “assault rifles”

Amid calls for an "assault weapons" ban in 2013, we analyzed local crime data and found the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office investigated as many crimes involving frying pans as semi-automatic rifles. Nearly all local gun crimes in recent years have involved handguns, our analysis found, though many did include high-capacity magazine.

7. Legal pot users can’t get guns

One group that can't legally purchase firearms, however, is medical marijuana users. We reported in December that people who register with the state of Ohio to legally use medical marijuana will be prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.

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