In the wake of the recent tragic mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Texas, gun control regulation issues confront us on how to ensure these events do not reoccur.
Within one day of the shootings, certain media outlets reported the Dayton shooter (who this author refuses to reference by name) purchased the AR-15 style weapon he used to commit his unspeakable crime, legally and that nothing in his past would have prevented him from buying a gun. In fact, oftentimes following a mass shooting it is reported the perpetrators obtained their weapons legally.
Nevertheless, even with the various gun control laws in place to prevent those intent on committing evil from obtaining a firearm, it just seems like, well, they always just find a way to get one anyway. For many, this predicament begs the question, “What are those gun control laws?” or, stated differently, as it may seem like anyone can buy a gun, then “Who can’t buy a gun?”
Without commenting on the gun control issue itself, Ohio law contains a specific list of individuals who are prohibited from buying, owning, and/or possessing firearms (and to whom sellers may not sell firearms).
Those individuals, known as “prohibited persons” include: fugitives from justice; individuals who are charged with or have been convicted of any felony offense of violence; individuals who were found to be delinquent for committing a violent felony act as a juvenile; individuals who are charged with or have been convicted of any drug-related felony; individuals who were found to be delinquent for committing a drug-related felony act as a juvenile; individuals who are “drug dependent, in danger of drug dependence or a chronic alcoholic”; individuals who are intoxicated; individuals who have been found mentally incompetent, mentally defective or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, other than merely for purposes of observation. Federal law goes even further and prohibits anyone who has been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence related-offenses from owning and/or possessing a gun.
Regarding Ohio’s prohibited persons list, it is a felony for any of the above individuals to own and/or possess a gun and similarly, it is a felony offense for to anyone to sell or otherwise furnish a gun, recklessly, to any considered a “prohibited person.”
Thus, naturally, the next question becomes, “How do you know if someone is a prohibited person?”
Federal law requires a federally licensed firearm dealer to perform a background check on anyone to whom they sell a firearm, whether a potential buyer is a prohibited person”would typically be revealed through the background check.
Ohio permits private sellers (non-federally licensed citizens) to sell guns. That being said, Ohio law makes it a felony offense for anyone, including a private seller, to “recklessly sell, lend, give or furnish any firearm to any person prohibited.” However, Ohio does not require a background check to be conducted on a firearm purchaser when the seller is just a private citizen. This is often referred to as the “gun-show loophole” as many private sales occur at gun shows.
The above gun control laws in Ohio have been on the books for quite some time. Whether one is for or against additional gun control measures, certainly everyone can agree on at least one common sense agenda – we, as a society, must do something to stop these horrendous acts of violence.
Larry W. Zukerman is the managing partner of Zukerman, Lear & Murray, Co., LPA in Cleveland and Adam M. Brown is an associate attorney.
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