Mourners gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting last year in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Gun Violence in Ohio: Is there a cure?

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ATHENS, Ohio – After a mass shooting in Dayton that killed 9 people last August, Ohio lawmakers have yet to pass significant gun control measures. On Monday the Giffords Law Center, a national gun-control group, gave the state a ‘D’ grade for its gun laws strength.

Ohio was ranked 24th on the annual gun-law scorecard despite having the 22nd highest gun-death rate in the country.

As per the reports, gun violence poses a serious public safety risk to Ohio residents, over 1,400 of whom die from gun violence each year. Research from the Giffords Law Center shows someone is killed with a gun every six hours in Ohio. That research also shows that states with stronger gun laws suffer fewer gun deaths.

After unveiling the STRONG Ohio bill last year, Gov. Mike DeWine said his number-one priority is to combat gun violence through advocating legislative proposals he feels are better than the Red Flag laws. He said that it allows the family member with a mental condition to get help and allows the police NOT to pull guns away from the person but get them help and wait for the court’s decision whether they should be allowed to use guns.

Steve Pickett sharing how gun violence can be controlled. (Picture courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe)

Former Athens cop and Pickett’s Gunworks owner Steve Pickett said Athens residents have mixed feelings about gun control.

“There are many people out there who’d just be really happy if nobody could have a gun at all. I think our state is very Second Amendment oriented and they are not gonna do a lot to violate people’s rights,” he said.

The controversial proposal for running universal background checks has hit a few roadblocks but Gov. Mike DeWine has said providing a mechanism for the gun seller to run a background check before selling a firearm to a stranger should also get the job done.

Pickett says those changes could be hard to implement.

“The only thing I’d change I think would be somebody’s mental status; I don’t know how they are gonna do it but I think it’s really important, because somebody could pass a background check but if they have a mental issue, we have no way of knowing and I think that’s gonna be an issue because of the patients’ privacy issues,” he said.

Gov. DeWine says 20% of guns sold in Ohio probably do not involve proper background checks.

Ohio University Political Science grad student Kyle Serrott, an anti-gun advocate said background check would likely be ineffective.

“I think making it harder to access guns (getting guns off of the streets, buybacks or confiscation of dangerous guns) would be prohibitive for the “bad guys” than background checks, because there are either ways around that or underground markets,” he said.

Kyle Serrot talking about the historical context of the Second Amendment. (Picture courtesy: Aditya Sahasrabudhe)

Serrott said he believes that there is a lot of misunderstanding about the rights people have when it comes to guns and the second amendment.

“Historical context of the second amendment was malicious when the U.S. didn’t have a standing army,” he said. “We clearly do have a standing army now, so it’s really important to look back at the original context and meaning of the Second Amendment.”

Although Serrott suggests that looking at gun violence through the lens of a public emergency and investing in research to study gun safety should help, he said he still believes there will be violence and crime as long as there are guns in our society.

“If you focus on gun violence as a health emergency and shape the narrative around that, and invest in that, I think you’d have a lot more success in reducing gun violence or minimizing it; although I feel like as long as there are guns in our society, there will be violence, but the way we approach it has got to change,” he said.

To check-out the state of gun violence in OHIO, visit Giffords Law Center.