Both chambers of the Ohio state Legislature are starting discussions to consider several gun law and mental health law proposals that Gov. Mike DeWine presented this week after a mass shooting in Dayton left nine people dead.
These proposals include red-flag style laws, expanded background checks and social media monitoring. They do not include bans on any weapons or gun accessories.
The governor, who is a Republican, will have to work with a House and Senate that both have Republican majorities. Former Gov. John Kasich, a moderate Republican, proposed some similar changes to Ohio’s gun laws during his last term in office. Those proposals never received a vote.
Spokespersons for neither chamber would say which way their party’s lawmakers are likely to vote.
“We appreciate Governor DeWine’s hard work in delivering his proposal,” John Fortney, a spokesperson for Senate Republicans, told The Center Square via email. “We are starting the discussion with members for thorough and deliberative consideration.”
Kristen Brett, a spokesperson for the Ohio House Republicans, provided a similar statement to The Center Square via email.
”The governor outlined a broad package of proposals [Tuesday]," Bennet said. “The governor and the speaker have had general discussions about the governor’s proposals, including the mental health aspect of mass shootings and reducing violence. The speaker is looking forward to reviewing the details of the proposals and talking with members of our caucus about how we can improve the safety and security of all Ohioans, and get people the help they need.”
DeWine’s proposals include a red-flag style law that would allow a judge to have a person’s guns removed for six months if the judge finds clear and convincing evidence that he could be a threat to himself or others. It also includes tougher penalties for violating current gun laws and an expansion of background checks that would only exempt a few types of transfers, such as gifts to family.
The proposals also include monitoring social media for potential threats and several mental health reforms.
Some gun rights activists, including Gun Owners of America, have expressed concern about DeWine’s proposals. Jordan Stein, communications director for GOA, told The Center Square via email that even DeWine’s red-flag proposal that rests on clear and convincing evidence is a Constitutional violation.
“This is a clear Second Amendment infringement and violates due process rights, among other protected liberties,” Stein said. “Consider that the Gilroy Garlic shooting took place in California, which is a state that has red flag gun confiscation orders (among many other gun controls). And yet that did not stop the Gilroy killer. However, the Gilroy shooting did occur in a gun-free zone, which kept attendees defenseless.”
Stein also said that criminals ignore background checks, which are more likely to keep honest citizens disarmed. Because universal background checks could lead to the state accessing gun transfer records, he said it could create a backdoor gun registry. To prevent mass shootings, he suggested eliminating gun-free zones and passing a Constitutional Carry law, which would allow Ohioans to conceal carry weapons without a permit.
In Texas, a state that also suffered from a mass shooting this past weekend, a bill that loosens some gun regulations is set to go into effect in less than a month.