Burke hears concerns from gun group
Quad County Coalition for the Sensible Regulation of Guns met with Ohio Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, Wednesday to discuss the possibility of legislation regulating guns.
According to its website, the group’s message is “there is an individual right for citizens to possess and bear arms,” and that “this right is not unlimited and can be regulated to protect public safety”.
Jim Bailey, co-founder of the coalition, emphasized the need for “sensible” regulations.
“We want to stress we’re not against the use of guns,” Bailey said. “We just want to see them used more safely.”
Bailey cited Rev. James Atwood’s book “American And Its Guns: A Theological Expose” as a driving force for the coalition. Inspired by the book, Bailey told Burke that in a U.S. Supreme Court case (District of Columbia v. Heller), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “The Second Amendment right is not unlimited” and “it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
According to Atwood, more than 80 people a day are killed by guns in the U.S., totaling more than 30,000 deaths a year.
The coalition provided Burke with suggested reforms, including requiring thorough background checks for purchasing firearms, eliminating availability of high-capacity ammunition magazines, increased support for treatment of mental illness and banning the sale and use of armor-piercing rounds.
“We can think of no positive reasons for assault weapons,” Bailey said. “If you don’t have the guns that can fire so many rounds … you at least can’t kill as many people at one time.”
Bailey said the coalition’s most important suggestion was that of background checks.
“They’re only required if you buy it from a federally licensed dealer,” he said. “And about 40 percent of guns are sold not from a licensed dealer.”
George Marsh, a coalition member,told Burke his main concern was the possibility of “Stand Your Ground” laws being passed in Ohio and the current Castle Doctrine.
The Castle Doctrine allows people to use deadly force to defend their house and vehicle against intruders. The “Stand Your Ground” law extends that ability to all locations.
“I can respect the will of the people with the Castle Doctrine,” said Marsh. “But it does concern me … that if somebody is outside of your car, outside of your house, or even inside your house, that unless a person is pointing a weapon at you, I don’t see why I have the right to shoot that person to death.”
He said he believed the law and the doctrine were wrong, saying the potential property loss “does not weigh as much in terms of morality as a human life, no matter how criminal the other person may be”.
Burke told the coalition he was a “responsible gun owner.”
“I believe that gun ownership is an individual responsibility that we all agree collectively as a society believe that should be exercised at an individual level,” he said. “For the few issues that you have in society around guns, given the large scope of people that own and participate in shooting activities, you walk a line of infringing on the rights of everyone for trying to limit the rights of the few who probably shouldn’t have those rights to begin with.”
He said he did not think the individuals in the cases Bailey brought up were of sound mind and that he was attempting to get legislation to minimize the frequency of said cases.
Burke explained the differences between criminal and civil law and how it applied to his legislation. In criminal law, cases typically end in prison or probation. In civil law, cases end in mental health services or no action. He intends to attempt to pass a bill adding probation as an option in civil cases. This would give individuals the opportunity to receive mental health services at home instead of going to a mental health hospital.
Through that legislation, Burke thinks gun crimes and events such as the Boston Marathon bombings, where no guns were used, could be reduced.
“I don’t necessarily believe that a government … that suppresses overall rights of every individual leads to a better outcome on what is really a ‘few’ issue,” he said.
Burke said people can lie on background checks, and they are not completely reliable. He also was hesitant to support the background check requirement.
“Big government tends to keep that information and I’m not thrilled that Uncle Sam would know that I have guns in my basement that I don’t think is any of his business,” Burke said.
He was not confident that any definitive legislation would get through any level of government.
“Neither side will see it resolved to their full satisfaction,” said Burke.
Coalition members have met with or contacted other representatives to further awareness of the issues.
For more information, contact Jim Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the coalition’s website at aimingforpeace.org.