YMCA Youth Delegation Guides Gun Law to Passage

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Five students from Rayen Early College researched and wrote a bill on regulating guns they introduced at the Ohio YMCA Youth in Government Conference last month in Columbus. It passed.

From researching the subject to writing the bill to guiding it through a hearings to passage during the three-day mock legislative session, Aalissia Thomas, Alexes Jackson, Isaiah Ramos, Tyrell Myers and Jullian Santiago got a feel for how the legislative process is supposed to work, says Joselyn Parker, the Central YMCA’s youth and teen director.

Aalissia was elected president of the Senate when the upper chamber organized.

“A lot of these students have stories of family members who were killed with firearms,” Parker said. “Their [premise was] if gun laws in Ohio were tighter, maybe their family members would still be alive.”

A sixth student couldn’t participate in Columbus because she stayed behind to attend the funeral of a family member killed by a gun, Parker noted.

The team began their research in late October and took the draft they wrote to Columbus.

The delegation of five, all ages 12 or 13, is the first team of middle school students the Central YMCA has sent to such a conference. They were part of a contingent of six chosen from 50 applicants.

Accompanying Parker to Columbus as advisers were Penny Wells, a retired teacher from Youngstown City Schools, Kevin Douglas from Rayen, and Misty Lemon from the Central Y.

“As first timers, they represented Youngstown incredibly well,” Parker said.

The students wrote a bill that would require a resident of Ohio resident to have a permit before he could buy a firearm, a requirement the state lacks. In addition, the would-be purchaser must be 21, prove no dependency on drugs or alcohol, have no history of mental illness and pass both Bureau of Criminal Identification and FBI background checks.

The proposed legislation stipulated that to obtain a gun permit, the resident must be at least 21 years old, be a permanent Ohio resident, showed no dependency on drugs or alcohol, had no history of chronic mental illness, and must pass an FBI and BCI background check. The students worked on the bill for more than a month before submitting it to Youth in Government.

Next year, Parker says, she plans to take a larger delegation of middle school students to Columbus.

And in April, the Central YMCA plans to send a group of older students to the Youth in Government conference for high school age students.

Pictured: Students Jullian Santiago, Aalissia Thomas, Tyrell Myers, Isaiah Ramos, YMCA Youth and Teen Director Joselyn Parker and Alexes Jackson gather outside the Ohio Statehouse.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.