Senate approves bill upholding gun sales amid emergencies


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio governments would be prohibited from stopping sales of guns or ammunition during a public emergency, under legislation approved by the GOP-controlled Senate Wednesday.

The bill is one of several General Assembly proposals meant to restrict governments’ powers as they relate to emergency orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic as well as concerns raised by Republican lawmakers about the racial injustice and police brutality protests in the summer of 2020.

The measure says the law would be in effect during a declared emergency as authorities suppress “a riot, mob, or potential riot or mob.” The Senate Veterans and Public Safety Committee passed the bill earlier this month.

The legislation doesn’t add gun rights but merely protects existing ones, said bill sponsor Sen. Tim Schaffer, a Lancaster Republican. He noted that Ohio’s stay-at-home pandemic orders closing businesses did not include gun stores, but said orders in other states did, including Michigan.

Sen. Cecil Thomas, a Cincinnati Democrat and former police officer, expressed concerns about the bill’s potential for eroding local municipalities’ home rule authority.