Ohio bill to keep firearms dealers open takes a step forward


Ohioans will not have to worry about gun dealers being closed down based on an order for a public official if the Ohio House follows the Senate.

The Senate needed less than a month from introduction to passage of a bill that bars prohibiting the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition. It now goes to the House.

“This has been a difficult year for Ohio, and while we continue to focus on slowing COVID-19, we must be mindful that we face these challenges before the backdrop of the peoples’ inalienable rights,” Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said. “Ensuring the right of Ohioans to defend themselves and feel secure is a vital part of our work.”

Obhof introduced the bill after seeing the reaction of other states to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in mind. It prevents any public official from issuing an order closing down licensed firearm dealers on either a statewide or regional basis.

Governors of several states, including Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as several local governments, issued orders that left firearms dealers off the list of essential businesses. That designation forced those businesses to close after stay-at-home orders had been issued.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Obhof emphasized there are no “emergency exceptions” to protecting constitutional rights, including the right to self-defense.

The legislation received strong support, according to a news release from Obhof, from the Buckeye Firearms Association, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The bill protecting firearms dealers follows a similar Obhof bill passed by the Senate that preventing the closing of churches or other houses of worship.

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