A group of gun controllers will be out in force at election places in Ohio Tuesday in their continuing effort to put universal background checks on the ballot. While the proposal isn’t on there now, and the state legislature has shown no interest in picking up the proposal, the group hopes to force the ballot initiative onto the people of Ohio.
Ohioans for Gun Safety is deploying more than 100 volunteers on Tuesday to polling places across Ohio in an effort to boost its campaign to put a universal gun background check issue on the statewide ballot.
“We’ll take anyone who’ll go out there and take time out of their day to do this,” said campaign spokesman Dennis Willard.
He added that he expects more volunteers to sign up to help in the days leading up to Election Day. There are more than 3,700 polling places in Ohio.
The group needs 133,000 votes to push this to the legislature. There, the Ohio General Assembly can either ignore it, pass it, or modify it. If they do anything other than pass it as is, the group could then collect another 133,000 signatures to put it directly on the ballot.
Now, assuming they’re starting at zero–something I’m quite sure they’re not doing–they’d need 1,330 signatures to be gathered by each of their volunteers. That’s a tall order.
Honestly, I don’t think they’re going to pull it off. Especially with this being an off-year election.
Of course, my first question was whether this effort was even legal. After all, pretty much every state has laws against campaigning at polling places and this is most definitely a campaign effort.
The quirk, though, is that Ohio law specifies election campaigning. This isn’t, technically speaking, election campaigning, so it’s not forbidden on the property of polling places.
They’re in the clear, legally.
Whether they have a shot in hell, however, is another matter entirely.
It’s not easy to gather that many signatures. Those have to be registered voters in Ohio, otherwise the signature is tossed out. That means they have to gather even more than the 133,000 to cover those that are inevitably tossed out.
That’s not easy with even the most popular proposals.
Universal background checks, however, aren’t universally popular in Ohio. While polls suggest broad support for them, that’s usually only in the vaguest terms. Once people see exactly what universal background checks entail, they often backtrack on their previous support. That means those looking at what Ohioans for Gun Safety are pushing may not be too keen to sign on the dotted line.
All of that means this is a quixotic quest for the gun control group.
I can respect their fervor in a matter like this, I just wish they’d direct it toward efforts that would undermind violence overall instead of focusing on just guns. Worry less about the tool and more about the tool using it and you’ll be just that much more effective in the long run.
Then again, if they thought that way, they’d have abandoned the gun control movement ages ago.