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Government and Politics

Connecticut shooting leads to examination of Ohio gun laws
New legislation, passed one day before shooting, awaits Kasich's signature

Kabir Bhatia
The Rev. Tracey Lind urged her congregation to contact Gov. Kasich about House Bill 495
Courtesy of Carl Carlson
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In The Region:
CORRECTION: The reciprocity clause referenced in this story was removed from the final version of the bill.

In a ceremony to remember the shooting victims in Connecticut, parishioners at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland decided to look ahead as well -- at gun laws. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports that includes challenging a change in gun restrictions that, at this very moment, is sitting on Gov. Kasich’s desk.
Connecticut shooting leads to examination of Ohio gun laws

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“It is, in the most profound way, utterly senseless.”

The Rev. Tracey Lind started out her Sunday sermon mourning the 28 people who died in Newtown, Conn., last Friday. Many churches around the country prayed for the victims – including 20 6- and 7-year-old children attending Newtown Elementary School. And they reflected on the violence.

Lind changes gears
“I’m going to invite you to sit in triads and talk about one or more of the following questions.”

Parishioners received bulletins asking them to reflect on how they should mourn, how they can make sense of the tragedy, 
and where they see God in this whole mess.

Lind also wanted people to think about an Ohio bill that lawmakers passed Thursday now awaiting the governor’s signature.

“House Bill 495 is going to increase the potential for future tragedies by allowing a gun, and specifically semi-automatic 
weapons and their magazines, to be transported in the same vehicle. And it will also allow people to have their firearms in 
their cars in the Statehouse parking garage.

“And all of our kids – I mean, I still remember my fourth- or fifth-grade class going down to the Statehouse to learn about 
state government. And we have an opportunity to say to our governor, with love and respect and accountability, ‘We would 
like you to stop this.’”

Lind handed out a sample letter in which parishioners could petition Kasich to veto the bill, which also addresses reciprocity with other states’ concealed carry permits. 

Simplifying gun laws
State Rep. Terry Johnson, a freshman from rural southern Ohio, authored the legislation. He likens it to a driver’s license.

“Each state has varying degrees of requirements to get a driver’s license, but nevertheless we recognize all licenses. The concealed handgun permits should function the same way. If someone has a California driver’s license, or an Arkansas driver’s license, and they come to Ohio, they still have to obey Ohio law when they’re here.”

Under current law if someone has a loaded magazine -- or clip --and a gun, it’s considered a loaded weapon and it’s banned in a vehicle. The law would change that so loaded clips and guns could be carried side-by-side. Only a bullet-filled magazine actually inserted into a gun would be banned. 

“House Bill 495 improves upon existing gun laws, making them easier to read, enforce and comply with.”

But back in Trinity Cathedral, Ward Heinz and Linda Zolten-Wood say state law should be going the other way, making it harder, not easier, to carry weapons and ammunition. They differ on whether their voices will be heard. 

Ward Heinz: “I just think the NRA is so powerful and so wealthy, they have so much money…“

Linda Zolten-Wood: “Look at how much money was wasted on the election, and it’s meaningless now. We have a voice! And it does give me optimism. This is a next step with the letter-writing. This is definitive.”

Ward Heinz: “I’m grateful for this. And I’m grateful for your optimism. I just don’t share it when it comes to the NRA.”

Linda Zolten-Wood: “I’m not saying get rid of all guns. I’m saying regulate them as if they were gonna drive a car.”

Ward Heinz: “That may be the answer to the first question, ‘Where do you see God today?’”

Remembering the victims
But he and many people seemed to be looking for answers to that question in a spiritual, as well as political, way during the service. It closed with the reading of the names of the victims, including the shooter and his mother. Todd Ruth from Lakewood thought that was appropriate.

“We need to pray for him. He’s a child of God. The first thing you have to remember is that everyone is a child of God.”

Trinity Cathedral plans to gather as many letters as possible and send them to Gov. Kasich early this week.
Listener Comments:

If people would take responseablity for their kids instead of letting them do what ever they want and buy them guns and dont pay attention and know what your kids are doing they dont belong playing with guns without the parent with them and showing them how all the time and not by themself.The parent should be responce for their kids not everybody else should suffer cause of them.

Posted by: Robert (ohio) on December 20, 2012 7:12AM
The suggestion that HB 495 would increase future tragedies is a lie and should be addressed directly in the article. HB 495 only applies to law-abiding citizens! It has no effect on criminals who use firearms to commit a crime. HB 495 should be passed without issue.

Real steps should be taken to prevent such tragedies from occurring in Ohio:
1. Serious response and attention to mental illness along with a comprehensive program to monitor these high-risk individuals.
2. An armed security or law-enforcement officer on the premises. There is simply no way for local law enforcement to respond in time to prevent incidents such as this.
3. If they should wish to do so, we should make it legal for school employees to securely keep a firearm on their person. We allow this for airline pilots flying in and out of Ohio everyday.

Posted by: Giovanni (Toledo) on December 17, 2012 12:12PM
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