And they disagreed.
That pretty much sums up the conversation about gun control that took place during the annual Associated Press Legislative Forum recently.
You could hear the frustration in the voices of legislators and the governor as well as the defiance.
Count Kenny Yuko as one of the frustrated ones.
The state senator who represents parts of Cuyahoga and Lake counties says that whenever he turns on the TV — be it a Cleveland or Columbus newscast — it is always the same thing: another shooting has taken place.
“I’m tired of it. Something has to be done,” Yuko snapped. “We have to get guns off the streets, away from people who don’t deserve them.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa … be careful if you’re going down the path of gun control, was the message sent from Larry Householder, Speaker of the Ohio House.
Householder lives outside the village of Glenford, population 173, in south-central Ohio’s Perry County. In other words, he’s out in the sticks. He said he was speaking for many people who live in rural areas.
“If someone comes driving up my driveway unannounced, I could call the sheriff, but then it’s going to take him 30 minutes to get here,” Householder said.
He wants to be able to protect his family.
“If that guy driving up my driveway has an AR-15, then I want an AR-15,” Householder said.
Later up to the podium came Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. He was in a familiar role: the man in the middle trying to find compromise. This time he was stepping between hardline gun-control activists and guardians of the 2nd Amendment.
Before he could get started a reporter asked the governor if he had a concealed carry permit. Yes he does, DeWine stated.
When was the last time he shot a gun, he was then asked. About eight years ago, the governor answered.
His body language let it be known he wasn’t there to talk about whether Mike DeWine packs a piece. He had one hour to speak and answer questions during the forum, and he was ready to spend a good chunk of that time discussing events like the one that happened the evening before in Lima, where three men were gunned down at a bar.
DeWine said his answer to the violence is a plan called “STRONG Ohio.” It’s been a tough sell, though. DeWine calls it responsible gun ownership, others see it as gun control.
“I’m asking legislators to not judge it by some label on what they might think it means, but to actually go through the bill, and look at what it does. There are things in here that are absolutely imperative that we pass,” DeWine said.
Police chiefs in both major and midsize cities have told DeWine it is a small number of people responsible for the violence.
“What we have is, repeat, violent offenders who have no legal right to have a gun, or not supposed to have a gun, who are showing up with guns, all the time. And so giving the prosecutors, the police and ultimately the judges, the authority to send that person away for a long time, will save lives,” DeWine said.
Then there’s August 4, 2019, Dayton, Ohio, and the early morning massacre that killed five men and four women and injured 17 others. The warning signs were there about the killer, but no one acted.
“It’s a problem that virtually every police officer, and many family members have seen,” DeWine said. “Someone in their family, usually a male who has a mental health problem, or who has a substance abuse or an alcohol problem, they start acting out. Something happens. They go off their meds or they’re drunk or high, and they have guns. Too often today the answer we give to these people is we cannot help you.”
People are also selling guns, unaware that the buyer may have a criminal record. “We have over 500,000 outstanding warrants, the vast majority which have never been put as a national database system. We need to get a handle on it,” DeWine said.
“I am asking the members of the Legislature to look at this and read the bill. Look at what it actually does. What you’ll find is it’s very consistent with the Second Amendment. This bill will save lives. We need to get it passed in the General Assembly.”