Mayor Whaley to testify before Congress about gun violence

Nearly two months after the Oregon District mass shooting, lawmakers at the local and national levels continue to have conversations about gun legislation as they attempt to find ways to curb gun violance.

At 10 this morning, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is scheduled to testify before a House Judiciary Committee about the impact of gun violence. It’ll be her first time giving testimony to Congress.

Related: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley’s profile rises as crises hit city

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder said he doubts expanded background checks would be effective in stopping gun violence, and he opposes so-called red flag laws unless the gun owner has his day in court before the government can seize his weapons — two signature elements to Gov. Mike DeWine’s gun violence prevention plan.

Householder, R-Glenford, has the power to move or block any legislation.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, said she is not hopeful that the GOP-controlled House will pass significant gun control measures.

“I think the chant of ‘Do Something’ was a rallying cry, that there is a significant issue related to gun violence and gun safety,” Sykes said. “ We recognize this in our caucus that this is a public health issue. It is a matter of people’s public health and safety.”

If Republicans fail to adopt meaningful reforms, Sykes said Ohioans need to vote them out. “We hope that our constituencies have the understanding of who is working for them and who is not working for them when November comes around,” she said.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, also known as red flag laws, that allow police or family to get a court order to seize weapons from loved ones who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. Days or weeks after the emergency seizure order, a hearing is held — with the gun owner present — to determine whether a long-term order should be issued.

DeWine has said his proposal will be constitutional.

Related: Ohio mayors, police chiefs to call for changes to state gun laws

On red flag laws, Householder said he opposes legislation that allows for firearms seizure first, without a hearing that includes the gun owner.

“Myself, I probably would not be inclined to support something where you don’t at least have an opportunity to confront your accuse,” he said. “I would say that any time we have a system where someone is able to come out and accuse you of something and you have no way of defending yourself and you lose a constitutional right – we all need to be concerned about that.”

Householder supports improving the existing background check system so that warrants, criminal charges and convictions are uploaded by local courts in a timely manner. He also said juvenile records should be available for law enforcement checks for a longer period of time.

But extending background checks to cover private party sales, including those conducted at gun shows, Householder said: “I don’t know that it’s going to lessen anyone’s exposure to the type of events that happen in our community.”

When Whaley testifies in Washington D. C. this morning, she will be among seven witnesses scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee, which includes Ohio Republicans Jim Jordan and Steve Chabot. Whaley's spokesman said the Democratic mayor is allotted five minutes for remarks, plus time to answer questions. The committee hearing can be seen here.

Other witnesses include a doctor from Texas Tech University in El Paso, the police chiefs from Charlottesville, Virginia, and policy experts from The Heritage Foundation, Giffords Law Center, The DC Project and the Violence Policy Center.

Following the Aug. 4 mass shootingin Dayton's Oregon District, Whaley has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, The New Yorker, Time and National Public Radio.

Related: Dayton Mayor Whaley joins Pelosi and others calling for expanded gun background checks

Whaley is also working with DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, both Republicans with ties to the Miami Valley, to pass a package of gun reforms at the state level.

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