Activism Red background with white text overlayed that reads "Enough is Enough." The logo for the Ohioans For Gun Safety campaign is along the bottom of the image.

Published on October 16th, 2019 | by Terra Goodnight


Tired of Waiting for Ohio Leaders to Do Something About Gun Violence?

Since the mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District on August 4, Ohioans have asked their elected leaders to do something about gun violence with little success. 

The bills that have been introduced are not moving. Governor DeWine even backtracked on his promise to introduce legislation instituting universal background checks. And Ohio’s ultra-conservative, inordinately powerful Speaker of the House has already said that a red flag law is dead on arrival in his chamber.

Fortunately for activists, there’s another way to pressure lawmakers and elected leaders that doesn’t involve waiting for them to do the right thing (and it was endorsed by Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley this week).

Sometimes the threat of a ballot measure is enough to get lawmakers to take action. Ohioans For Gun Safety wants to make that happen.

Petitions are now circulating for a citizen-led proposal to enact universal background checks in Ohio — with or without the legislature’s involvement. 

A citizen group called Ohioans for Gun Safety launched the effort to force the state legislature to consider universal background checks and, if they don’t, the initiated statute would go before voters on the statewide ballot in November 2020. 

Here’s how initiated statutes work:

The Ohioans for Gun Safety campaign is an initiated statute to close Ohio’s gun show and private sale loophole. 

The campaign first has to gather 133,000 valid signatures by the December 2019 deadline. If they are successful, the proposed language would go to lawmakers for their consideration.

The legislature would then have the first four months of 2020 to pass the measure into law. Assuming they fail to do that — or if they make changes to it that are unacceptable to the proposal’s backers — the proposal could go directly to voters in November 2020 with the submission of an additional 133,000 signatures. 

Whether the proposal appears on the ballot in 2020 or 2021 depends on if the campaign can meet that signature threshold in the window of time allotted. 

If Ohioans for Gun Safety has all of the additional 133,000 valid signatures they need by July 2020, the initiated statute would be on the ballot in November 2020. 

If the campaign misses either of the deadlines to get the measure in front of the legislature or on the ballot, December 2020 and July 2021 become the new signature filing deadlines to put it on the ballot in November of 2021. 

How Can You Help

What’s most needed is for people to sign and circulate petitions, and support the campaign financially to ensure that the voices of Ohioans — who overwhelmingly support expanded background checks — can be heard, regardless of what our lawmakers do. 

Get involved at

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About the Author

Terra Goodnight does Policy Research and Digital Organizing for Innovation Ohio, a progressive-leaning research and advocacy nonprofit in Columbus. She also runs a few Twitter accounts and had earlier careers in state and local government and private sector technology consulting.

One Response to Tired of Waiting for Ohio Leaders to Do Something About Gun Violence?

  1. Pingback: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley Endorses Ohioans For Gun Safety's Ballot Initiative - Swing State Voices

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