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DeWine Prepares To Release Specifics On Gun Background Checks, 'Red Flag Law'

Oct 7, 2019
Originally published on October 4, 2019 4:52 pm

Gov. Mike DeWine plans to reveal on Monday the official bill language on expanded background checks and red-flag gun confiscation, two major issues that have been at the center of heated debate in the aftermath of the Dayton mass shooting. 

It was early August when hundreds of people chanted "Do Something" as Gov. Mike DeWine took the stage at a memorial for the nine victims shot and killed during a mass shooting in Dayton.

Just days later DeWine unveiled a 17-point plan, saying it answered that call to "Do Something."

That plan included tougher penalties on people who commit crimes with a gun, and expanded access to mental health treatment. But what captured the most attention were the two gun regulation proposals. 

DeWine said in August it's important for state leaders to step up and address gun violence, while noting that there is no "magic solution."

"But I can tell you this, if we do these things, it will matter, if we do these things it will make us safer," says DeWine.

Expanding background checks would mean mandating a check for every gun purchase, even for personal transfers. This closes the so-called gun show loophole. 

Watch: Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) holds press conference to discuss plans to reduce gun violence

DeWine is calling his version of the "Red Flag Law" a safety protection order. The law expands the ability for a court to confiscate a weapon from someone deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. DeWine said during that August press conference that it will have due process measures in place.

And DeWine wasn't the only Republican to step out in favor of more gun regulations. Dayton-area Senator Peggy Lehner was also moved after the mass shooting to be more assertive on her stance for the "Red Flag Law."  

"To put a gun in the hands of someone who is mentally ill and has ill will towards other people is not protecting our constitutional rights it's just plain foolish, it's stupid," says Lehner.

The reactions from gun groups following DeWine's announcement have ranged from tepid to outright anger.

The Buckeye Firearms Association said they were willing to work with the administration and not take a stance until they see the official bill language. The group's board president Jim Irvine said the state needed to make sure any proposed "Red Flag Laws" didn't impose on due process.

"Nobody likes what happened. Nobody likes the violence in our inner cities. What can we do about it, respecting the rights of the citizens, and make it work?" says Irvine.

Chris Dorr is with the  group Ohio Gun Owners. They say they make no exceptions when it comes to gun control. With that they've taken a more outspoken position, especially against DeWine's safety protection order.

"He can call that pig what he wants to, he can put as much lipstick on it, but a safety protection order is still a red flags order, you're still not convicted of a crime," says Dorr.

The mass shooting and DeWine's announcement for more gun control happened two months ago. Since then there have been several rallies both for and against those measures.

Leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate have hinted that they might be willing to work with DeWine on his proposals. But Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, a staunch gun rights advocate, has been more apprehensive, raising concerns about a lack of due process but also saying he’s worried about giving people identified as dangerous too much of a heads-up that they could lose their guns.

"Anytime that we have a system where someone is able to come out and accuse you of something and you have no way of defending yourself and you lose a constitutional right, we all need to be very concerned about that," says Householder.

Democrats in the House and Senate say they're ready to fight for more gun regulation. But it could be a daunting task, as the Ohio Legislature has not passed significant gun reform in decades.

"The devil's in the details" that's been a common phrase echoed throughout the past eight weeks from nearly every group involved in the gun debate. Once DeWine finally reveals those details, more groups will be forced to take an official stance on the issue.

Copyright 2019 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.