Recent Gun Bill Is Bad for Ohio's Youth

04/27/2015 01:46 pm ET | Updated Jun 27, 2015

My heart aches for the thousands of people who will lose their lives this year to gun violence. The thousands of families who will mourn their loved ones. The thousands of stories that will never be told, jokes that will never be laughed at, and memories that will never be made. According to the Center for American Progress, 33,000 Americans are killed on average each year, with this issue disproportionately affecting young people. In 2010, 54 percent of these deaths were people under the age of 30. Children, teens, and young adults are most likely to be impacted by gun violence, but, far too often, our voices go unheard in addressing these issues.

Which is one of the reasons I strongly oppose Ohio's House Bill 152, which would take away the need for any training or permit to carry a hidden, loaded weapon. Anyone over the age of 21, that is not otherwise prohibited from owning a gun, would be granted the same legal right to carry as someone with a concealed carry permit. In Ohio, it is legal for to carry weapons into any establishment with a Class D liquor license. We are gradually taking steps towards allowing people, who have no training or permit, to carry a hidden weapon into a place that serves alcohol. That is not commonsense legislation. That is foolishness.

While young people are often the victims of these crimes, they are often the perpetrators as well. Easing these restrictions and allowing young people over the age of 21 to carry a hidden, loaded weapon with no training, permit, or background check can only lead to higher incarceration rates among this group of people. We are not building a future for Ohio's young people, we are taking it away. If we truly value the lives of Ohio's youth, we must advocate for commonsense gun legislation, work to create safer communities, ensure equitable education for Ohio's students, and expand opportunities for our most marginalized communities.

As we continue to take steps backwards, I worry about my younger siblings going to school or playing outside. And loosening the restrictions for the concealed carrying of weapons does nothing to calm my fears. We want to believe that bills like this will help protect individual freedom and make it easier to protect ourselves and the ones we love. But the reality is that every 70 minutes, a person under the age of 25 is murdered with a gun. This is not the reality that our children and youth deserve. This is not the reality Ohio deserves. And I have to believe we can do better. I believe in championing the voices of young people to address the issues that affect our everyday lives, but that cannot happen when the lives of Ohio's youth are not valued by the very people who are supposed to represent us.