'Crazy will find a way': Tri-State leaders discuss gun reform

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Posted at 10:58 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 23:37:05-04

CINCINNATI — In the days and weeks following a mass shooting inside a Texas elementary school, local leaders are offering insight into what can be done to address gun reform.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) said in a conference call to media members Wednesday he's focused on "common sense" solutions.

"I’ve been in a lot of negotiations as you know, trying to play a constructive role in this one. Part of that means that it’s best not to negotiate in public,” Portman said. “They’re doing so in a way that won’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens. We’ll get common sense ideas to help.”

Portman said there’s a balance that must be struck in order for change to take place. On one side, not infringing on the rights of current gun owners. On the other, coming up with a solution that can make a difference and pass through both the House of Representatives and Senate.

He offered several ideas that are being floated around at the Capitol, such as red flag laws for those with mental illness, banning AR-15 weapons, and raising the age limit for buying a firearm.

“Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals is the core of this. Improving school safety is also really important. We talked about the broader issues of mental health that can be addressed here I think, I really do,” Portman said. “I think this is an opportunity to do something we should be doing anyway.”

Portman referenced the 2017 Fix NICS Act, which he said strengthens data going into the National Instant Criminal Background check system.

“There’s been a discussion as an example of putting juvenile records into the NICS system because they’re for the most part sealed, or even expunged — not available, including for this young man in Texas,” he said.

Portman also spoke about the Stop School Violence Act authorizing the justice department to provide grants to states and local governments in the name of school safety.

“We’ve used those grants in Ohio," Portman said. "I don’t think every school is protected as it should be. There’s more to do."

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has handled many high-profile cases involving guns.

“There’s a great quote from Jurassic Park that 'life finds a way.' The corollary that I came up with is that crazy finds a way,” Gmoser said. “You can take away all the AR-15s, all the pistols you want. Sooner or later, one way or the other crazy will find a way.”

Gmoser said the issue of gun reform must be addressed from a multi-faceted approach.

“I believe this is a mental health issue as much as it might be a gun control issue, and a red flag issue," Gmoser said. "I think that’s a good place to start also. I favor red flag issues. I think we need to go beyond that — into the elementary schools. Look for the children who are alienated. Who knows that better than anyone? The teachers."

In a press conference days after the elementary school shooting, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones encouraged school boards to "put armed personnel in the school, plus teachers."

"Not every teacher, or it can be a janitor," Jones said. "It can be someone who works in the school, it's up to the school boards."

When asked about the likelihood of gun reform laws being passed in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Portman said it’s crucial to continue bipartisan conversations.

“I think it’s important we work hard to get something done and get it to the floor of the Senate," said Portman. "Hopefully the president of the house will be willing to understand that it’s important we move forward on something. That’s my sense. It’s a different environment, and we have an opportunity."

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