Open Letter to Ohio Legislature on SB 260

Dear Representatives and Senators of Ohio,

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

          We know these words. We have lived, and bled and died by these words. We have fought tyranny because of the promise these words hold. As Libertarians (hell, as human beings), we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

          If we want to get literal with this text, every background check, every Concealed Handgun License, every mandatory training, is some form of an infringement. Every regulation on the types of firearms, magazine capacities and the like are already infringements. This is where I could simply say “what part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do our lawmakers not understand?” and walk away.

          I believe this issue of gun regulation and mass violence and the overall mental health epidemic of our society is so much more complex and deserves a much deeper response.  It’s dangerous for a society to go straight from “OMG the President is literally Hitler and police are violating our rights!” to “let’s ban all the guns” so quickly.

          Emotion is not eloquence and it’s certainly not public policy. These students speaking out after the Florida shooting are high school students who will be going off to college or the workforce in the next few years and I genuinely hope they vote and are engaged in the political process for many years to come. Witnessing or being inside of a horrific tragedy does not make them experts on public policy. I am certainly not saying they aren’t entitled to have their stories and opinions heard, but every citizen nationwide has the right to have their stories and opinions heard. It is disingenuous if not dangerous to propose such a huge piece of legislation that will affect so many state residents in a reactionary mode after tragedy.

          Let’s discuss the Ohio bill (260) as it currently stands. It would make it a fifth-degree felony to purchase or possess an assault weapon, which is defined in some detail in the bill but generally means any firearm with a capacity over 10 rounds or the ability to accept a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. That handy little pistol you have tucked away in a closet for home defense, makes you retroactively a 5th degree felon even if you purchased it at your local Cabella’s and filled out all the paperwork the nice guy at the counter asked you to. This makes ZERO sense.

          A government that believes it is entitled to retroactively decide someone is a criminal based on behavior that was peaceful and legal when the individual did the behavior should have everyone alarmed, no matter their political leanings. No government should ever have that power over its citizens. In fact, this is right in line with all of the reasons for the Revolutionary War and it’s inherent in the very nature of our culture.

          Democide (death by government) killed 260,000,000 people in the last century. Of course, that number is debatable because, certainly many more deaths were covered up or unconfirmed.  Major genocide in history was preceded by wholesale banning and confiscation of firearms. Let’s recap just some from the last 100 years: Stalin, Mao, Lenin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Tito, and the list goes on. A society with more firearms than citizens and citizens with a rich history of self-defense should be considered another “check and balance” in our society, alongside the veto and judicial review. That so far, has been the tradition of our nation. Legislation like this strip away our natural rights.

          Conspicuously absent from the proposed bill is any mention as to what to do with the already legally owned, newly outlawed firearms and exactly how citizens are supposed to even try to comply with this new mandate. This is a mandate that is impossible to enforce as maybe only a fraction of current gun owners would willingly show up to hand over their guns. Unwarranted search and seizure is unconstitutional.  So again, if this bill becomes law and a citizen does try to comply, exactly, how do they?

          My heart aches and breaks every time I hear about violence in our schools. I want tempered and reasonable discussion about how to make our schools safer and more effective. This includes mental health, law enforcement reporting procedures and so many other topics. Proposed legislation like this is inherently divisive in an already highly divided political climate and serves to only cause deeper and more entrenched division rather than actually solve either the issue of gun violence or school safety. It’s taking advantage of a crisis. It’s disgusting and I demand better for our community.

          I urge you to vote this bill down.