It never hurts to discuss gun laws

Gov. Mike DeWine wants Ohio legislators to consider new limits on firearms ownership. They include more background checks for gun buyers and potential power by courts to restrict access to weapons by those thought to be threats.

It never hurts to talk about whether existing laws can be improved, of course. And keeping firearms out of the hands of those prone to violence sounds appealing.

But how can that be accomplished within the bounds of the Second Amendment? Those convicted of violent crimes already can be banned from possessing guns. Who decides whether a particular person may be a threat? Simply being diagnosed as having a mental illness — or being depressed, or anxious, having attention deficit disorder … you get the idea — does not make one a threat, nor should it prevent them from owning firearms.

Buckeye State lawmakers already have demonstrated reluctance to tackle questions such as that. We don’t blame them.

But discussing what, if anything, government can do to prevent killing sprees by the violently mentally ill — whatever the weapons they choose — is not just an exercise in futility. It may provide answers to some questions, even if many Ohioans want to hear something different. DeWine’s proposals ought to be debated.