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Ohioans For Gun Safety Folds, Encourages Supporters To Back Whitney/Strong

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A grassroots group formed to push for a change in Ohio's background check rules for gun sales is ceasing operations.

Ohioans for Gun Safety focused on collecting signatures to get a background check bill on the ballot in 2021. A spokesperson for the group tells WVXU the pandemic stifled its efforts and it felt too difficult to restart the effort in the current climate.

"We firmly believe that as Ohioans and Americans, we must balance our rights and responsibilities to stop gun violence," writes Dr. Anne Wallace, a clinical psychologist and researcher and member of Ohioans for Gun Safety, in a release.

"Prior to the pandemic we were on-track to submit our citizen-initiated statute for common sense background checks with the necessary signatures to state legislators. Ongoing health and safety concerns mean that large scale signature collection will not be feasible for the foreseeable future."

Ohioans for Gun Safety will cease operations at the end of the month. It is encouraging its supporters and advocates to join forces with Cincinnati's Whitney/Strong Organization.

"Grass-roots campaign efforts like ours, where the primary focus is a local ballot initiative, need the right political environment and strong partners for success. Whitney/Strong has made great strides at the local and national level in several key areas of legislation, education and research, and we're excited to join forces with Whitney/Strong in supporting their initiatives."

The group, which focuses on responsible gun ownership and ending gun violence, formed following the deadly 2018 shooting on Fountain Square. Group co-founder Whitney Austin was shot 12 times during the attack.

"We're grateful for the work of Ohioans for Gun Safety, and to be entrusted by OGS and its leadership team after just three short years is testament to the work that our supporters and volunteers have accomplished," Austin writes. "Our community will be better together."