Following Sunday's mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine people, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday laid out an 18-point plan to address gun violence, which included red-flag style laws, expanded background checks, increased penalties for gun law violations and social media monitoring.
Distancing himself from labeling his proposal a red flag law, the governor prompted the state legislature to empower family members or police to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from people who may be a risk to themselves or others.
Under DeWine’s proposal, a judge would be required to hold a hearing within three days of the filing and could order temporary removal of the firearms if he finds probable cause that the person is a threat to harm himself or others. The judge would have to hold a second hearing within 14 days to keep the guns out of his possession any longer than those two weeks. If the judge can find clear and convincing evidence that the person is a threat to his own safety or the safety of others, then the state can hold onto his firearms for another six months.
Family members or the police could file a second petition before the six months expires if they believe the person is still a threat. If another filing is not approved by a judge, the person will get his guns back. Throughout the six months, the person would be allowed to appeal the order to get his guns back.
The governor said that he met with Second Amendment groups to ensure that he balances public safety with the right to keep and bear arms. He said his proposal is different from a red flag law because red flag laws do not ensure proper due process.
DeWine also called on the legislature to pass a bill that would require a background check for all sales. In a limited number of instances, such as gifts to family members, a non-sale gun transaction might be exempted from a background check under the proposal.
Penalties for violating gun laws or using guns in felonies would be increased under the plan. He said that a person caught with a firearm he cannot legally own should be given a mandatory two to eight years in prison for a first offense and three to 11 years for a second offense. Possession of a firearm during a felony would be punishable by one to three years and brandishing a firearm in a felony would be punished by three to five years, he said.
Illegally furnishing firearms to minors would have a prison sentence increased to up to three years, DeWine said. Straw purchasers and people who get firearms illegally through them would be imprisoned for two to eight years, he said. Straw purchasing is when someone buys a gun to give it to someone who cannot legally own one.
The governor also included a proposal to increase social media monitoring. He said the state has the software to target specific words or phrases on social media platforms and then to share that information with law enforcement or schools. This could also apply to Facebook messages, DeWine confirmed. Although he did not say how civil liberties would be protected, DeWine said that they would not be monitoring everyone’s social media.
DeWine did not propose any gun bans or restrictions on high-capacity magazines.
The Ohio budget delegated an additional $675 million to wrap-around programs, which DeWine said would help school officials find mental health problems in children and teenagers early on and intervene to provide care. He also said the state will work with local communities and schools to help address mental health problems in the state.
The gunman wore a mask and body armor when he opened fire early Sunday in a popular entertainment district in Dayton, killing several people, including his sister, and wounding dozens before he was slain by police