Ohio Attorney General Kills Gun Control Ballot Initiative

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Gun control activists have found that ballot initiatives are a useful tool in their kit. From time to time, if a legislature of a given state is uninterested in enacting a particular gun control scheme, anti-gun groups try to use the ballot initiative process to circumvent lawmakers.

Unfortunately, it works more often than I’d like. In fairness, if it worked once it would be more than I like, but still.

Part of the strategy behind these gun control ballot initiatives is that pro-gun groups have to expend resources fighting them, resources that aren’t available to fight for an expansion of gun rights or even to hold ground against anti-gun legislators.

It’s a useful tactic…when it works.

Backers of a proposed citizen-initiated law to require background checks for most gun sales will have to restart their efforts after Attorney General Dave Yost rejected their proposed ballot summary on Thursday.

Yost, a Columbus-area Republican, wrote in a rejection letter to Ohioans For Gun Safety that their proposed summary language – a succinct explanation of the proposal provided to voters asked to sign a petition supporting the measure — inaccurately stated that their measure would apply to all firearms sales. In fact, their proposal, as written, would not require federally licensed gun dealers to undergo background checks before purchasing such weapons.

Yost also stated that the submitted summary language didn’t note a number of exceptions included in the group’s proposal. Background checks would not apply in a number of cases, including gifts of firearms between family members, sales of antique guns, temporarily giving someone a gun to use for hunting or at a shooting range, or giving over a gun to get it repaired.

Yost’s rejection means Ohioans For Gun Safety has to revise their summary language, collect another 1,500 signatures from registered voters, and resubmit their proposal to the attorney general’s office.

Speaking of expending resources.

Now, this doesn’t kill the effort necessarily. What it does do, however, is mean whatever they spent trying to get those 1,500 signatures–including writing the legislation and the summary for people to look at–was effectively wasted. They now have to go back and do it all again.

Good luck with that.

Don’t get me wrong; the threshold is low enough that I suspect they’ll have little issue finding enough uninformed people to sign it. The problem, however, is that it doesn’t sound like Ohioans want gun control, at least based on what we’re seeing from their lawmakers. While the expansion of gun rights doesn’t seem to be as much of a priority, they’re also not tripping over themselves to pass gun control either. If their constituents wanted it, they’d be passing it left and right.

That suggests that even if they get it on the ballot, it won’t pass, especially as they now have to spend more money to get it on the ballot. You can’t tell me they have unlimited resources or anything. Cash is always tight for about every group.

To be sure, Ohioans for Gun Safety is acting like this is a minor setback. They may well be right.

However, if you take enough minor setbacks, you won’t see a lot of difference between that and a major setback. We’ll have to see how this all shakes out moving forward, but whatever they want to push should be vehemently opposed.

That should go without saying.