CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled new gun legislation Monday intended to prevent gun violence statewide, though his proposal does not include a “red flag” provision or close the private-sale loophole.
DeWine announced the plan at a press conference from the Ohio Statehouse alongside Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
The “STRONG Ohio” bill comes two months after the August 4 mass shooting in Dayton that left nine dead and increased calls for tighter gun control across the state.
In the days after that shooting, DeWine asked for background checks on all private gun sales, including sales at gun shows, thus closing the private-sale loophole decried by gun-control advocates.
The legislation unveiled Monday would make such background checks on private gun sales optional.
Also in August, DeWine proposed a version of a “red flag” law that would allow police and relatives to remove guns from those who pose a threat to themselves or others, making its absence in the “STRONG Ohio” bill conspicuous.
DeWine’s legislation does expand the scope of court-ordered treatment so that hospitals and courts are better able to help those with a drug or alcohol dependency. Probate courts could also require those declared a danger to themselves or others to turn their guns over to a third party or the police.
Other provisions aim at increasing penalties for acts already illegal under Ohio law and making it easier for prosecutors to secure convictions in those cases.
Several provisions also work to ensure the effectiveness of existing state and federal databases.
“Nothing we are doing places new restrictions on a law-abiding citizen from owning a gun,” Husted said. “These proposals are focused on keeping guns out of the hands of people who are prevented from owning a gun by enhancing law enforcement’s ability to enforce current law.”
The bill has earned measured praise from some democratic lawmakers, with State Sen. Cecil Thomas calling it “a step in the right direction.”
But gun-control advocates warn the “STRONG Ohio” bill doesn’t contain enough provisions to curb gun violence. They also wonder whether the bill has any chance of becoming a law, even with DeWine’s own August proposals removed.
“We are glad that Governor DeWine is making gun safety and gun violence prevention a topic of conversation at the Statehouse, but we are doubtful that there will be any real progress based on the legislature’s track record," Ohioans for Gun Safety spokesperson Dennis Willard said.