Parker: Strong Ohio bill to stop gun violence makes Dayton strong

In the wake of the violent shooting in the Oregon District on Aug. 4, Daytonians gathered to hear some of our key elected officials discuss the horror and what might be done to keep something like this from occurring again in our community or in Ohio.

Phil Parker, president & CEO, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Our area had already suffered from multiple tornadoes ripping through several of our communities in the late evening of Memorial Day. That action alone built the defiance of “Dayton Strong.” But barely two months later we were suffering again.

The people on the streets of the Oregon District that day and evening after the shootings had many mixed emotions – horror, grief, sadness, pain, tears and much more. But one thing they all seemed to rally and bond around was the chant of “Do Something” that sent a clear message that action was needed and this senseless act of violence must be met with decisive action starting here on the streets of Dayton.

As the Dayton area and its people picked themselves up after two horrific events that many say have made us a stronger Dayton, our leaders, including our Mayor Nan Whaley, Gov. Mike DeWine and other officials, demanded change.

On Oct. 7, just two month later, DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio mayors and legislators, as well as police, fire and medical professionals, gathered in Columbus to introduce legislation that takes corrective steps in keeping Ohioans safe as well as helping those who really need our help dealing with demons of depression, alcoholism and drug addiction and how their personal issues can affect their aggressive behavior.

That day, the governor introduced Strong Ohio, a bill now assigned as Senate Bill 221 in the Senate and later in the House, that is now ready to begin a process of furthering the accountability of our people. This new bill will be debated by our state legislators and may change through its normal amendment process. When it does go through a rigorous debate, we should hope it will be meaningful legislation that will provide more safety for our people, whether they be at home, in our businesses, churches, synagogues or schools, and create resources for those who need clinical help, and if need be, create greater penalties for gun crimes.

Something had to be done. This is a clear start. This is an overhaul of Ohio’s “pink slip” process that currently deals with mental health and substance dependency issues of our citizens, and more. This bill is not a focus on guns, but rather on people and how to keep them from a path that could lead them to injuring themselves or, God forbid, others like in the Oregon District.

The Strong Ohio bill, SB221, needs our Dayton community’s support both with our Ohio senators and members of the House. Not only is it the right thing to do, but this started in Dayton and needs Dayton’s voice of advocacy. This is a step in the right direction and hopefully will not get so watered down by the time it reaches the governor’s desk to sign, that it will have little or no impact on the root issues.

Our Chamber of Commerce took an active position on this Senate bill not just because the violence of Aug. 4 was 1,200 feet east of our offices, but because it happened at a Chamber member’s doorstep.

We have real concern for the safety – and future safety – of area employers, their employees, guests and customers. If this bill can keep just one life from being lost in the future, then at least something positive may come out yet of the nine beautiful lives lost and dozens of injured that early Sunday morning in the Oregon District.

I believe Strong Ohio can help us overcome our heartbreak and continue our work and legacy of making Dayton Strong. Your voice must be heard, too. Now Do Something!

Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Download a PDF of this article as it appeared in the Dayton Daily News.

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