Gov. DeWine Introduces ‘STRONG Ohio’ Bill To Reduce Gun Violence

Again with the “We Must DO SOMETHING!™” 

Two months after the mass shooting in Dayton spurred Gov. Mike DeWine to take action against gun violence, the governor has released details about the official bill he’s presenting to lawmakers. The legislation won’t include two significant gun control measures DeWine previously supported, however.

DeWine in August said he wanted two major elements in his gun violence bill: a version of a “red flag” gun seizure law, and enhanced background checks for private gun purchases. Neither element appears in the version DeWine unveiled Monday.

The governor says his “STRONG Ohio” plan, which will be sponsored by state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) will create improved measures to protect the public, increase private sale background checks and will decrease gun violence overall.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the mission was to come up with something that would be constitutional while respecting Second Amendment rights, and still manage to pass the Republican-dominated legislature. Husted said this package was developed with hundreds of hours of consultations with mental health experts, hospitals, law enforcement and gun rights groups.

“Everything we are doing places no new restrictions or limitations on a law-abiding citizen to own a gun,” Husted said at a Monday press conference. “These proposals are focused on keeping guns out of the hands of people who, based on current law, are prevented from owning a gun.”

Husted said the administration felt a “red flag” law, which former Gov. John Kasich unsuccessfully pushed last year, would be “inadequate and unworkable.” He said a valid due process period would take at least 72 hours, which poses a potential danger to that person and to law enforcement. And Husted said just removing the gun doesn’t mean you’ve kept that person or others safe.

The proposal in this bill is being called an “enhanced safety protection order.” It’s built on the existing “pink slip” law, which allows for people assessed by mental health experts in a psychiatric facility.

Husted said this would add substance abuse as a reason for allows a person to be pink slipped, along with mental illness. It would also require anyone who is deemed to be a danger to themselves or others to surrender their weapons.

The bill also creates a new system for background checks for private gun sales and transfers. The “seller protection certificate” would not create a requirement for a background check for private gun sales, as DeWine previously discussed.

However, Husted said the certificate would create “an easy way for buyers to prove they are legally allowed to own a gun and to give private sellers peace of mind and a responsible way to sell a gun to someone who they may not know.”

Husted said potential buyers can request background checks from sheriffs’ offices, which can issue a “seller protection certificate” good for 90 days. That certificate or a valid concealed carry weapons permit can be presented to private sellers as proof they’ve passed a background check.

Husted said private sellers won’t have to require sellers to have that certificate, but will have an incentive to use the system – there’s a penalty of up to three years in prison for selling a gun to a criminal.

“Under this plan, the excuse ‘I didn’t know he was a bad guy’ will no longer work in the state of Ohio,” Husted said. “We are making it easy for private sellers to act responsibly and have peace of mind. We create a solution, an incentive, and a consequence.”

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