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Talks Turn from Sequester Back to Gun Control

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Now that sequestration has passed, those in tune with national politics can return to an even more contentious issue: gun violence.

The gun question divides people across the country, especially in Ohio. Citizens of a state that is generally considered friendly to gun owners, many Ohioans have voiced their support for control measures in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

In February, gun control advocates from across the state met in Columbus for a demonstration in front of city hall. Speaking at the gathering was State Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard, who decried the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, but also believed it was an opportunity.

Speaking to a crowd more than 200 strong, Heard spoke in favor of more gun control. “This is an opportunity to wake up, to recognize, to reconsider, and to do better,” she said. “When it comes to protecting our children and our community, nothing is more important.”

Moms Demand Action, the organization partly responsible for the Columbus demonstration, epitomizes the brand of grassroots activism that has become prevalent thanks to social media. Originating as a Facebook group started by Shannon Watts, an Indiana mother who felt compelled to do something about gun violence, one of the objectives of Moms Demand Action, among many, is to counter gun industry lobbyists whose goal is to weaken gun laws at the state level.

“We have over 80 chapters and 80,000 supporters. Together, we will be the voice of reason,” Watts said.

The gathering also featured Toby Hoover ­– whose organization Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence co-sponsored the event – Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, and pediatric trauma surgeon Dr. Jonathan Groner. The three men spoke out against assault weapons; Croner called them weapons of war, which “should not be the hands of you, or me or anyone else outside the police or the military.”

Despite such displays of support for gun control, many Ohioans still place faith in responsible gun owners, and believe that restrictive gun laws would not be in their best interests.

Rebecca Scott owns Lock Stock and Barrel gun shop in Portsmouth, Ohio. Proud of the buckeye state’s status as gun friendly, Scott relies on loose gun laws for out of state business.

“We have a lot of people that seek Ohio for their gun laws … I have people from California that come in and say, ‘oh my gosh, this is awesome … I can have this!’ And without all the extra regulations or zoning. And that makes Ohio a very friendly state,” Scott said.

On behalf of individuals like Scott, Republican Ohio State Sen. Kris Jordan has introduced a bill that aims to counter any control measure passed by Congress. The bill, Senate Bill 36, would make it illegal for federal agents to seize a firearm, which is lawfully in possession.

Unfortunately for gun owners, the supremacy clause of the constitution, which states federal law takes precedence over state law, may limit the effectiveness of Jordan’s bill.

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