Advocacy update November 23, 2021

Advocacy update November 23, 2021

Advocacy update November 23, 2021 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection

Two gun rights expansion bills and anti-protest bill passed by Ohio House; Governor signs Congressional map

Two bills passed by the Ohio House last week now go to the Ohio Senate:

  • HB 99 allows school districts to arm staff with 20 hours of safety training, compared to over 700 hours in current law. School districts could require more training, at their own cost.
  • HB 227 allows Ohioans over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training. These bills now move to the Senate.

A Congressional map that only introduced Monday night (Nov.15) was passed by the legislature after a single public hearing at which every speaker was an opponent. It was signed by Governor DeWine this weekend. This article in the Ohio Capitol Journal gives a summary of the controversy over this map, which, like the state district map, was passed without the bipartisan support required by Ohio’s new voter-approved constitutional standards for it to be a ten-year map. Like the state district map, the Congressional map is expected to be challenged in suits brought before the Ohio Supreme Court.  The legislature will have to provide documentation on how the map conforms to the constitutional requirements.  The Congressional map has been criticized for “packing and cracking” minority communities to dilute their votes.

All of these bills raise deep concern among Christians working for racial reconciliation and justice.In the nation’s growing temper of anger and fear, the rise of vigilantes and the expansion of their rights to carry guns, claim self-defense, and not have to retreat are playing out in trials like that of Kyle Rittenhouse (who traveled armed to a protest over the police shooting of African-American Jacob Blake) and the killers of Ahmaud Arbery.  This month the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee approved HB 109, adding the risk of new criminal penalties to organizations like churches who publicize protest events.  The impact of partisan gerrymandering in diluting the votes of minority communities cuts them off from a remedy to injustice.

Gun Right expansion bills advance

Two bills passed by the Ohio House last week now go to the Ohio Senate:

  • HB 99 allows school districts to arm staff with 20 hours of safety training, compared to over 700 in current law. (learn more) School districts could require more training, at their own cost.
  • HB 227 allows Ohioans over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training. These bills now move to the Senate.

See below, advice from  Ohio Moms Demand Action on effective ways to advocate with Ohio Senators.

This AP article documents how bills passed or close to passing in Ohio are part of a national trend increasing the number of armed people in public. Ohio is one of 30 states which have passed Stand Your Ground laws. The nation has been riveted this month by two trials:  Kyle Rittenhouse’s for killing two protesters and wounding a third in Wisconsin, and the McMichaels and William Bryan standing trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, all examples of armed civilians taking law enforcement into their own hands. Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges on the basis of self-defense on Nov. 19.

Phone Calls to Senators’ offices about HB 99, arming minimally trained teachers

(from Ohio Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense)

Please call daily, simply going down the list, especially your own. You will always receive the Senator’s voicemail or an aide. https://www.ohiosenate.gov/

Please ask that they send a message to the Senator to oppose any legislation that dramatically reduces the training hours for arming teachers in our schools. Identify yourself (teacher, parent, citizen, constituent, etc.) Pick a point or two to explain why you want them to oppose the bill:

  • When children are exposed to guns their chances of being injured or killed dramatically increases, always.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded the Second Amendment permits “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools.”
  • Let the experts, the well-respected Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC) – not the legislators –  determine what the proper training to keep students safe should be for a teacher to carry a loaded gun into a school, without limiting what the OPOTC can recommend (HB99 currently limits what the OPOTC can recommend).   Parents, teachers, and law enforcement are willing to wait for these recommendations rather than hurriedly setting minimum training standards (22 hours) that all law enforcement agencies agree are insufficient.
  • Let’s put the safety of children before supporting gun lobby groups such as Buckeye Firearms Association, which has a financial interest in the passage of this legislation to continue its “training” program.
  • Putting the safety of our children/grandchildren first means following what the experts say about the (1) proper amount and type of training, (2) regulations for safe storage of guns in the schools and (3) regulations for safe use of the guns by the teachers authorized to carry guns in schools, all absent from HB99.
  • Chiefs of Police of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown have opposed significantly reducing the current 737 hours of training required for teachers carrying firearms in schools. Why does the House continue to push legislation that disregards law enforcement and makes the job of our law enforcement officers more complicated and dangerous. Our lawmakers need to support bills that actually back the blue.
  • Ohio’s educational funding has been deemed unconstitutional for decades. If our lawmakers would properly fund schools they could have the ability to provide resource officers rather than inadiquately trained teachers to keep students safe.

Emails to Ohio Senators

  • Emails can also be sent daily to all Senators. We ask that you don’t put all of the emails in bcc but write to them individually. We have heard by our lawmakers that this kind of effort on your part makes a difference
  • Choose a few points from above to put in your email.
  • Personal stories and testimonials are excellent if you’d rather put that in your email.

Postcards/letters to lawmakers

  • Please follow the above tips.
  • Postcards written by children are a great way to get special attention from lawmakers.
  • If you are sending letters, include a picture of your children or your family
  • Pre-pandemic we held “postcard parties” at a Panera or bar. Post-covid we did zoom postcard parties. Feel free to do this with friends if you’re looking to put some social element in your advocacy.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com