COLUMBUS- State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today gave sponsor testimony on House Bill (HB) 335, legislation that would protect victims of domestic abuse and first responders by requiring anyone subject to a temporary civil or criminal protection order to surrender their firearms to a law enforcement agency or sell them to a federally licensed gun dealer.
“We know domestic violence is problematic and fatal in Ohio. This is life-saving legislation that should have been prioritized and passed long before the pandemic,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “While I’m happy to bring this legislation forward and advocate for victims, it disappoints me that the majority, ruling party at the Statehouse continues to ignore valid cries for sensible gun legislation while thousands of Ohioans are living in fear.”
HB 335 was introduced in September 2019 with joint sponsor State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) amidst growing calls for action on gun violence after the tragic mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This sponsor testimony marks the first hearing in the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee, more than one year after introduction and as domestic violence cases and severity rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Work from home and stay at home orders have limited the opportunities for abuse victims to be seen by others and create space from their abusers, making domestic violence situations even more volatile,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “My sincere hope is that my colleagues will support this legislation and move it quickly to help these vulnerable Ohioans.”
The pandemic led to a nearly 7.5 percent increase in calls for service during March, April and May, according to research just presented to the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice. During the first month of the stay-at-home order, the Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital experienced a 44 percent decrease in the number of requests it typically receives for help with domestic violence. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of families living with domestic violence already far outpaced the resources. Meanwhile, a critical funding source for victims’ services was significantly reduced last year.