A terrifying scene unfolded in the Cincinnati nightclub Cameo early Sunday morning, when armed gunmen shot 17, one fatally, in the largest mass shooting so far in 2017. Witnesses described a “big brawl” before shots rang out, sending the nightclub into a panic.
Tragedies like this remind us that the proliferation of loaded, hidden weapons in public pose a serious risk to public safety—in this case, a disagreement between two groups escalated into a deadly shooting, forever altering the lives of the victims and their families.
In recent years, the gun lobby has sought to weaken Ohio’s gun laws—in 2016, we gave the state a D on our annual Gun Law State Scorecard. The state does not extend background checks to all gun sales, and last year it passed a law that, among other things, allows guns on college campuses and in sensitive areas like daycares, workplaces, and airports.
Expanding the number of places guns can be carried increases the risk that everyday conflict can erupt into tragedies with irreversible consequences. These dangerous laws also make it harder for law enforcement to identify perpetrators from supposed “good guys” with guns in emergency situations. Ohio also has an onerous preemption statute that prevents local lawmakers from passing laws specifically tailored to protect their communities from gun violence.
While we’re still learning more details about the circumstances surrounding the tragic mass shooting on Sunday, we know that deadly weapons in the wrong hands present a significant threat to public safety. Ohio lawmakers can do a lot more to prevent dangerous people from getting guns to carry out acts of violence like we saw in Cincinnati this weekend.