Once again, Ohio lawmakers take the wrong path on guns
A little more than a month from now, a full year will have passed since the mass murder by gun of nine people in Dayton – 26 people shot in 32 seconds on a warm summer night – sparked what looked for a moment like real momentum toward reasonable gun control in Ohio.
But the push and pull of opposing gun-policy factions in the Statehouse have produced something closer to a stalemate. Gov. Mike DeWine’s package of eminently reasonable restrictions, even though watered down significantly to appease gun-rights advocates, remains unpassed. On the other hand, the worst of the gun-rights extremists’ proposals haven’t passed, either.
Given the relentless expansion of gun rights by lawmakers in most of the past decade or so, that’s relatively cheering. Still, Ohio deserves better.
The House of Representatives on June 11 passed a bill that would eliminate the duty of someone with a concealed weapon to “promptly” inform a police officer, for example, in a traffic stop, about the weapon. Instead, the gun holder would have to tell an officer about the gun only if and when the officer asks for identification.
The bill also drastically lowers the penalty for failing to mention the gun. Instead of being a first-degree misdemeanor with a fine up of to $1,000, it would result in a civil citation and a maximum fine of $25.
The Senate should deep-six this bill, which solves no problem and increases the likelihood of a dangerous misunderstanding between a police officer and a member of the public.
We’re thankful, at least, that House Bill 425 was not amended to include “stand your ground” language, as some hardliners advocated. That is the deeply flawed idea of removing the legal duty of a person in a conflict to retreat, if retreat is possible, before using lethal force.
The entire nation is agonizing over the deadly persistence of racism-fueled encounters in which people of color are confronted and questioned while simply going about their business. Stand-your-ground laws in other states have been blamed for helping escalate such conflicts into killings.
Recall the recent case of Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man jogging through a white neighborhood who was followed, blocked and confronted by two armed men who said they believed he was a burglar. The men shot and killed him when he fought back against their attempt at a “citizens’ arrest.” No charges were brought against the shooters until a video of the incident incited public outrage, and part of the original prosecutor’s reason given for inaction was that Georgia’s stand-your-ground law allowed the men to shoot Arbery because they believed him to be dangerous.
Studies have found that not only do stand-your-ground laws lead to a significant increase in gun homicides, but also when those cases go to trial, a white person who killed a Black person is far more likely to be exonerated by a stand-your-ground defense than if the races are reversed.
This is the last thing Ohio needs to be safer.
We urge reasonable lawmakers instead to quickly approve Senate Bill 221, DeWine’s compromise package. It would provide a fair process for taking guns away from people found by a court to be dangerous to themselves or others and create an incentive for voluntary background checks in private gun sales.
It falls well short of what most Ohioans want in reasonable gun restrictions, but it would be the first step in the right direction in many years.
Final decision on DACA will rest with the voters
The Lima News
Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled against President Trump’s efforts to negate President Obama’s order protecting from deportation foreign nationals who were brought to this country as children. The final word on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals will rest with the people whom voters send to Congress in the November elections.
It’s just one more reason all eligible voters should pledge to cast their ballots this fall.
The court, in a 5-4 decision, did not resolve the question of whether or not DACA should remain as permanent policy; it left that decision to lawmakers.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
In other words, the Trump administration failed to give a compelling argument why Barack Obama’s executive decision establishing DACA should be rescinded. Roberts strongly suggested that deciding if undocumented residents who have lived their whole lives here, and did not come here on their own, should be deported, if they deserve special considerations with regard to permanent legal residency or if they deserve no such consideration, and have to compete with new arrivals for visas.
Obviously, this is good news for the roughly 700,000 people who received DACA status; the Migration Policy Institute estimates another 600,000 people could meet the criteria to obtain the protections, but have chosen not to. So those who have qualified for the protections, and any who qualify in the future, are safe from the threat of deportation - for now.
We’ve heard the arguments for years: These are people who have lived here since they were children and this is the only home they know. They grew up here, were educated here, and many already are contributing members of our society. Removing DACA protections could send them to lands that are as foreign to them as they are to anyone else, and in some cases put their lives in danger. Many have established their own families, composed of natural-born U.S. citizens.
President Trump played upon some Americans’ fear of immigrants to win the White House in 2016, and early campaign actions suggest he will do the same this year. Reelection likely will embolden him to step up his efforts to reduce if not stop immigration. Election of more Trump supporters to Congress in November probably will lead to legislation that will codify those efforts. Members who recognize the value and need for immigrants, on the other hand, could begin composing reasonable, workable immigration laws.
Those laws are sorely needed; Congress for decades has abdicated its duty to maintain reasonable immigration policies. And as more Americans clamor for those policies, Congress should feel more pressure than ever to provide them.
What course they take, however - supporting or opposing immigrants and their contributions - is up to the voters to decide.
It only adds to the importance of every vote.
Open trade, tech schools
Education from kindergarten through graduate school stalled when governments and school leaders took strong measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
While some education can take place at home and online, schools ultimately need students in the classroom, with proper protective measures to protect students, teachers, and families.
In no field will that return be more complicated than in technical and trade schools.
It’s essential that millions of students looking for career training can pursue their dreams by learning auto repair, nursing certification, welding, cosmetology, massage therapy, or the many other careers that require hands-on training.
With coronavirus a long-term threat, trade and technical schools must create plans to get students back in school and get the training they need - and plan to integrate off campus learning into classes more than the current makeshift efforts currently available.
Staggered class hours, social distancing to the degree possible, and automation are among the answers. While much education will remain in the realm of remote teaching, video lessons, and hands-on experience can be obtained at home and in the neighborhood. Creative thinking already has created new options in coronavirus times.
Students can give manicures and haircuts to family members or take apart and put back together a family member’s or relative’s car. Some nursing skills like taking blood pressure and checking other vital signs can also take place at home - if schools get the necessary equipment into the hands of students.
In one New York high school, nursing assistant students were taught to give a bed bath by a teacher using a family doll in a video classroom, according to the Associated Press. In Missouri, agriculture students learn that no greenhouse was no problem. Instead the teacher had them tend plants at home and report daily on progress and changes in the growth of their plants.
Not all career education can take place virtually, certainly not in the nursing field.
Phlebotomy, for instance, cannot be taught with dolls. Drawing blood will require hands on training. With careful safety procedures with personal protective equipment in place, the risks to student, teacher and patient can be minimized.
Training for careers simply can’t be put on hold forever, because generations of older tradesmen and women will be retiring over the years and jobs in service industries will be in demand and often pay well. About 30 million Americans hold jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree yet pay a median income of $55,000, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education.
For many students, college isn’t the career path they want and need. Trade and technical schools give students the skills required for a good-paying job or to go into business for themselves.
Making the education for those jobs possible and safe in an era when coronavirus will likely be a threat over the years is an essential task for education officials and teachers.
The federal government and states should devote resources to make sure trade and career education can adapt to challenging times.
Stay safe, keep your distance
We support reopening our area businesses and know how extremely important it is to find a way back to some sense of normalcy for industry here. We took a deep breath as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine began relaxing restrictions in late May into June on when and how businesses could reopen and we welcomed it.
But we grow more concerned in recent days - and believe you should be too - as other states that reopened just ahead of Ohio see spiking numbers of positive COVID-19 test results and the infection rate reaches levels not seen before, or even contemplated. We grow concerned as information comes back that some sectors most vulnerable to spreading the disease are having difficulty sticking to the rules, and have some customers actively defying them.
The businesses on South Bass Island rely on tourism to survive, so in the early days of the pandemic there was considerable distress that a pandemic shutdown could wipe out the No. 1 source of revenue. The lifting of restrictions - pushed hard by some and resisted by DeWine - began just as its traditional “season” for welcoming visitors began, on Memorial Day. Since then, there’s no looking back.
“It’s already like July, here. We’ve been extremely busy,” Put-in-Bay Mayor Jessica Dress told the Register. The traditional tourist season builds beginning in May and grows to its peak in July and August.
We can hear a voice from our youth calling out to us, and calling out to local and state health departments. “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson.”
Candidly, Put-in-Bay is not a place where people go to behave responsibly. In many instances, it’s quite the opposite, and frankly, we’re concerned too with the response from the Ottawa County Health Department to the complaints that have been lodged. No enforcement action has been taken against any Ottawa County businesses not in compliance with state COVID-19 guidelines.
It’s the hospitality and tourism industry, especially, that attract people from across the region and from other states in larger groups that has the potential to spread the virus here, by spreading it to resort employees. Cedar Point, which opens next month, spelled out how it will work to keep guests safe - taking the temperatures of each guest at the entrance and limiting the park capacity. It’s guidelines for amusement parks are the ones adopted by the state.
At other businesses, it not so clear how they are working to implement and maintain the social distancing, masks and other anti-spread precautions businesses are required to have. At Kalahari, complaints to the Erie County Health Department have prompted warnings the mega-resort and convention center could be forced to shut down again.
Part of the problem for Kalahari is guests refusing to comply with safe distance and masking rules. Hopefully there are plenty of people - plenty of potential customers - willing to be cautious and abide the rules so those who are not can be asked to leave.
The bottomline, it seems, is that local and state health departments must take seriously the responsibility to review and act on every serious complaint, including shutting down businesses unwilling or unable to meet the new standards or with an unwilling customer base. The time to regulate responsibly, unfortunately, is right now.
Yes, worry about your grandparents and all of us
Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tried a little psychology when he urged younger Buckeye State residents “If you don’t worry about yourself, worry about your grandparents.”
He was speaking particularly to his “friends in their 20s” who are maybe a bit less cautious in avoiding COVID-19. But while there is a perception that young people believe they are invincible - and certainly there has been evidence that many are not at all concerned about the virus - it is a bit unfair to paint them as the culprits as COVID-19 cases were at their highest since April last Thursday.
Yes, the most recent wave of cases is hitting “younger” Ohioans disproportionately harder, with 60% of recent cases affecting those between 20 and 49. A quick look around in any public setting tells us there are plenty in the upper half of that age range who are ignoring social distancing and other precautionary guidelines, too.
The example being set, especially by those older conspiracy theorists who wear their refusal to wear a mask like a badge of honor, does nothing to encourage younger Ohioans to worry about them.
So yes, young folks, worry about your grandparents - and yourselves - and take the precautions necessary to help stop the resurgent spread of COVID-19. But the same precautions must be taken by EVERY Ohioan, if we are to avoid both a spike in illnesses (and deaths); AND the need to stop, or perhaps reverse, the reopening of our economy.
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