The issue of gun control, or some sort of adjustment to current gun sale laws, is not only the hottest issue in Washington DC right now, but in every community there are opinions as numerous as there are people living there and Scioto County is no exception.
A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to tighten controls on gun sales Monday in the aftermath of the Orlando mass shooting incident last week. As expected, voting was along party lines with Democrats lining up solidly behind gun control measures and Republicans opposing several pieces of legislation.
“I don’t have a problem with extending the background checks and things like that,” Diane Porter of Porter Firearms in Wheelersburg said. “But to come out and tell me that I can’t own a gun – I’ve been on this earth for 62 years and have done nothing wrong – I think I should be able to own anything I would like. None of my guns have jumped up and shot somebody.”
U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) voted for legislation offered by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to “strengthen the current firearms background check system” known as the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS).
“This proposal will fix flaws in the current background check system so that we can keep guns out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness, criminals, and terror suspects without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must ensure that relevant records from federal agencies, law enforcement, and the states are uploaded into the NICS in a timely and consistent manner to make sure prohibited individuals are prevented from purchasing a firearm,” Portman said. “This proposal also ensures that more mental health records are uploaded to the NICS to limit the ability of those suffering from mental illness to threaten themselves or their communities. Lastly, it requires federal agencies to notify law enforcement if an individual who is currently, or within the last five years, being investigated as a terrorist and attempts to acquire a firearm. These common-sense protections will strengthen the national background check system and help reduce gun violence, and I strongly support them.”
While she is not technically involved in the gun control movement, Joni Fearing of Portsmouth has spent many years as a part of the anti-nuclear movement, and has an opinion on the current legislation before Congress.
“I think we need intelligent reform because these shootings are beyond anything that we can even comprehend,” Fearing said. “So we need intelligent reform and I’m glad that the Congress is taking this up as an issue.”
Fearing is on the same side of the ledger as U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
“We cannot look people in the eye and say we are doing what it takes to keep Americans safe from homegrown terror unless we are finally willing to pass commonsense laws to keep weapons of war out of the hands of terrorists and violent criminals,” Brown said. “It is commonsense that if the FBI decides someone is too dangerous to get on an airplane, they are too dangerous to buy an assault rifle. And dangerous criminals shouldn’t be able to avoid background checks that could save lives simply because they buy their guns online rather than at a local gun store. It’s past time that we close these dangerous loopholes.”
Porter said she believes educating children about gun safety at an early age is an important part of the process of the owning and use of firearms.
“We started my granddaughter shooting when she was four to be able to teach her the right way and the wrong,” Porter said. “and she loves shooting and she’s good at it and she knows the proper way and everything to handle her gun and how to clean them and put them up.”
For the first time, over 500,000 active Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenses have been issued. That represents over four percent of Ohio residents who are now authorized to carry concealed handguns. The first quarter 2016 figure of 36,118 licenses issued is the most initial CHLs ever issued in a quarter, which is a 132 percent increase over the same period the prior year.
Scioto County figures are up for the first quarter of 2016 as well. Chief Deputy Todd Miller of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office said there were 354 new issues, 155 licenses renewed, one suspended and three applications denied.
“Demand continues to support a theory expressed by Professor Brian Anse Patrick, professor at the University of Toledo, that demand has not leveled off, but is increasing over time,” Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said. “Concealed carry used to be thought of as an interest mainly of hardcore gun owners, but it has become increasingly popular with soccer moms and others who just want to be safe in their everyday lives. It is rapidly becoming mainstream.”
“You have more and more women getting their concealed carry,” Porter said. “They’re not going to shoot anybody, they just want it to protect themselves, or if their husband isn’t home to be able to protect their children.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.