Ohio Bill Would Protect Second Amendment During Emergencies

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

It wasn’t all that long ago when we saw gun stores forcibly shut down due to the pandemic. This, of course, was a direct assault on the Second Amendment as it prevented people from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

In Ohio, this has prompted lawmakers to propose a bill that would make that and a few other infringements illegal.

Thousands of Ohio businesses were forced to close during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but gun shops weren’t among them.

Gov. Mike DeWine carved out exemptions in his stay-at-home orders for firearm stores and other “essential businesses” like gas stations, grocery stores and hospitals.

Republican lawmakers say DeWine got that part of the shutdown right, and they want to make sure another governor couldn’t decide otherwise.

That’s why Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, introduced Senate Bill 185. The bill, which was voted out of committee Tuesday afternoon, would ban local governments in Ohio from closing gun stores during a declared state of emergency. And it would ban law enforcement from confiscating weapons, invalidating concealed carry licenses or closing down shooting ranges.

“It simply clarifies that people cannot have their rights taken away during a time of a declared emergency,” Schaffer said.

The bill will also ban the confiscation of firearms during states of emergency. Many states have these provisions, passing them not long after guns were taken from law-abiding citizens in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

In other words, this bill isn’t coming from out of the blue.

Unsurprisingly, there are those who have issues with it. Particularly since riots are states of emergency and current law bars the sale of guns, crossbows, and knives during riots. This bill would overturn that law.

Frankly, though, I’m OK with it.

Rioters aren’t buying crossbows during their riots, they’re using bricks, bats, or whatever they can steal from the stores that they loot. Bar sales of these weapons won’t hurt the rioters, but it damn sure hurts those who are fearful of those rioters. Removing that provision from state law will be an unmitigated win in my book.

The real shame of it is, though, that a law like this would be needed at all.

Our Second Amendment rights are no different than our First Amendment rights. They’re not viewed that way, to be sure, but that doesn’t change reality. Our rights don’t disappear because of a virus. They don’t disappear because of a storm or a mob, either. They’re our rights, rights we were granted simply because we exist as human beings.

This bill will respect that simple fact. It’ll make it impossible for future governors to ignore this simple fact.

Of course, that assumes the bill will pass. If you’re in Ohio…first, I’m sorry, but second, I urge you to reach out to your state officials and ask them to support this bill. You, your state, and your children all deserve to not have to worry about your rights simply not existing because it’s inconvenient for some people.