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Government & Politics
2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

In Push For Background Checks, Gun Control Advocates Head To Polling Sites

The group Ohioans for Gun Safety is making a push to get a popular gun control measure in front of voters.

According to the group’s spokesman Dennis Willard, they’re focused on one issue: getting mandatory universal background checks passed in Ohio.

Volunteers for the group spent Election Day at polling sites statewide, asking for signatures to put a new gun control law on the 2020 ballot.

“We had a really great day. We had between 100 and 200 volunteers across the state,” Willard said. “We also were very strategic about sending our volunteers to precincts where we knew or anticipated that there would be high voter turnout.”

At this stage of the voter initiative process, Ohioans for Gun Safety needs to collect more than 130,000 signatures from half of the counties in the state. Then the proposal goes in front of the legislature, which has four months to consider it. If they reject it or pass an amended version, the authors of the proposal have to collect another 130,000 signatures to get it on the ballot.

Willard says they’re working with local chapters of the gun control group Moms Demand Action to get the signatures.

Ohioans for Gun Safety has not yet tallied the signatures gathered so far because they're waiting for the petitions to arrive in the mail. But the push for signatures came on the same day the state legislature began hearings on Gov. Mike DeWine’s background check and gun seizure proposals in Columbus.

According to a July NPR/PBS/Marist poll, 89 percent of adults in the U.S. support universal background checks on gun sales.

DeWine is asking the legislature to enact voluntary background checks for gun sales between individuals, the kinds of unregulated sales often referred to as falling under the “gun show loophole.”

Willard applauds DeWine for raising the issue with a legislature that is skeptical of gun control measures.

“But unfortunately, his proposal on background checks falls woefully short of what we think is needed,” Willard said.

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