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Posted at 01:57 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Ohio school shooting may draw attention to state’s lax gun laws

Correction, 1:57 p.m.: This post originally stated that a person in Ohio must be 18 years of age to purchase a handgun. They must be 21.

A gunman at Chardon High School in Ohio opened fire Monday on students with a .22-caliber handgun, which he had stowed in his handbag. Three students were fatally shot and another was injured.


School Superintendent Joe Bergant speaks to the media during a news conference at Chardon High School. (GETTY IMAGES)

It is unclear how T.J. Lane, 17, who authorities say carried out the shooting, acquired the gun.

But the shooting is bound to push Ohio lawmakers and residents to look more closely at their gun laws.

Under Ohio gun laws, a person must be 21 years of age, pass a national background check and fill out a firearms transaction record to purchase a handgun. A state permit, firearm registration and owner’s license, however, are not needed.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence rated Ohio only a 7 out of a possible score of 100 in terms of strong gun laws, saying that people can avoid background checks by buying handguns in private sales.

Last summer, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a “guns-in-bars” bill into law, making it legal to carry concealed firearms into bars, restaurants, shopping malls, nightclubs and sports arenas for the first time. The law is considered one of the broadest gun laws in the country.

Critics say Kasich passed the law because of a strong gun lobby, despite reports in 2009 and 2010 that found that nearly half of the guns used in crimes were sold in just 10 states, including Ohio.

And the law may have sparked more gun-buying, with licenses to legally carry concealed firearms more than doubling in the past three years, according to a recent report.

Handguns are not allowed at any high school or other place of learning, but the Ohio legislature was very recently considering changes to that law. From Cleveland.com last Sunday:

The legislature is now considering a bill that would go even further by allowing concealed carry in places of worship, on private and public college campuses, daycare centers and some government buildings.

As Frank Ochberg wrote Tuesday on CNN’s blog Global Public Square, there is no one answer to why shootings happen at schools in the United States more than in any other country.

The possible factors in the Ohio shooting, Ochberg wrote, include “failure by classmates, parents and school officials to see the warning signs; bullying and revenge; serious mental illness; violent role models; drugs; access to guns; and a culture that condones extremism.”

But the shootings at Chardon High are sure to be on the minds of lawmakers when they consider a bill that would allow concealed guns in schools.

By  |  01:57 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Tags:  National, Ohio, shooting, Chardon, gun laws

 
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