Ohio considers eliminating concealed-carry permits

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Public News Service) – Ohio continues to chip away at firearm restrictions, and one bill being considered by lawmakers would allow people 21 and older to carry concealed weapons without needing a permit.

House Bill 178 is sponsored by Republicans Ron Hood and Tom Brinkman, along with more than 20 other legislators.

Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, is convinced that the bill would put communities at even greater risk.

“And that is a pro-gun piece of legislation,” she points out. “It’s been introduced to allow people to carry concealed weapons without a background check, without a permit, without any kind of training. It would allow anybody that’s not prohibited by law in some other way to go ahead and carry a gun.”

The Ohio House will likely vote on the bill before year’s end.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Ohio has the 22nd-highest gun death rate among the states, and on the center’s annual scorecard of state gun safety laws, the organization gives the state a D grade.

More than 1,400 Ohio residents lose their lives to gun violence each year.

Compared to other states, Ohio has relatively few gun control laws. There are no waiting periods to purchase guns, dealers aren’t required to obtain state licenses and there is no limit on the number of guns that can be purchased at one time.

There’s also no ban on assault weapons or large-capacity magazines.

Hoover says state lawmakers have worked to erode any gun law that might be considered restrictive.

“Over these years, we’ve just watched the gun lobby completely influence the Ohio Statehouse,” she states. “And so, we had seen our gun laws that we had, which were very few, weaken and weaken.”

Gov. Mike DeWine, who has previously been endorsed by the NRA, is now proposing to tighten access to guns by requiring background checks on firearm purchases, among other reforms he recently announced after a gunman killed nine people and injured more than 20 others in Dayton last weekend.

Reporting by Nadia Ramlagan


Report highlights role for farming in slowing climate change

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A new report says farming has an important role to play in fighting climate change. The Climate Change and Land Use report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says rising temperatures and severe weather are putting pressure on land, and methods of land use – including agriculture – can help remove carbon from the air.

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According to Jimmy Daukas, senior policy officer at American Farmland Trust, that includes the basic agricultural land management practices his organization has embraced for more than 40 years.

“Things like reduced tillage, keeping the ground covered with cover crops, managing their fertilizer applications, rotating crops – all those things help mitigate climate change,” Daukas said.

The IPCC report emphasized that changes in land-use practices need to be scaled up to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The report also emphasized as climate change progresses, food security will be a critical issue. Daukas noted land-management practices that improve the health of the soil can have a major impact.

“Increasing soil health helps build resiliency to the changing weather, but also helps to increase productivity since soil health can lead to healthier crops and increased yields,” he said.

He added good agricultural practices not only provide both immediate and long-term benefits, they are actually cost-effective.

Daukis said the conversion of farmlands for real estate development is another factor putting pressure on land. And he said keeping agricultural land in crop production also helps slow climate change.

“That transformation to development has a significant impact on greenhouse gases because sprawling development causes more vehicle miles and energy use,” he said.

The full Climate Change and Land report is available at IPCC.ch/report.

Reporting by Andrea Sears


Trade fights mean more food for Indiana food pantries

INDIANAPOLIS – International trade fights are having an unexpected upside for Indiana programs that focus on feeding the hungry.

To make up in part for the lost overseas markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying much more food from producers, and that food ends up at food banks and pantries.

Josh Trenary, executive director of the Indiana Pork Producers Association, says the government bought 10 times as much pork this year than in the past – so much, in fact, it was a challenge at first.

But he says it’s the kind of problem feeding programs like to have.

“It was such a great opportunity to get this much protein at once, they have found ways to make it work,” Trenary states.

The trade situation remains in flux, but Trenary says the mitigation program looks likely to continue for at least one more year.

According to Glenn Roberts, executive director of Tri-State Food Bank in Evansville, the federal government had never before bought fresh milk – it was typically dried or condensed.

This year, he says his food bank got 12,000 thousand gallons of fresh milk from the three states it serves.

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“And our cooler would be just jam-packed with milk – and of course, that is the most perishable item,” he relates. “But again, we are in the business of feeding hungry people. This has been a huge blessing to us.”

Roberts estimates in all, his food bank received an extra 1.3 million pounds of extra food in 2019 due to trade mitigation.

Reporting by Dan Heyman

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