Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine introduced a series of proposals that would make it easier to take guns away from “potentially dangerous individuals,” strengthen background checks and provide more resources for mental health care following the shooting early Sunday in Dayton that left nine people dead and 37 others injured.
Before he addressed reporters for a press conference, a protestor could be heard at the Ohio Statehouse shouting “do something.” DeWine, a Republican who was elected in 2018, heard the same words from angry attendees during a vigil for the victims on Sunday night. During Tuesday’s speech, he said “someone chanted do something and they were absolutely right. We must do something and that is exactly what we are going to do.”
Absent from the proposal, however, was any discussion of restricting high-capacity magazines or assault rifles. The 24-year-old gunman in Dayton used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum––both of which were purchased legally––to fire at least 41 rounds in just 32 seconds before he was killed by police.
DeWine said he is asking the legislature to pass a law to allow courts to issue “safety protection orders” that could take guns away from “potentially dangerous individuals” and “get them the help they need.”
The proposal is similar to “red flag laws” introduced in other states. DeWine stressed that there would still be “due process” for those involved and initial hearings would be held within three days of the filing. If the state shows people flagged under the law are a danger to themselves or others and have access to firearms, they would have to surrender their guns to law enforcement. A second hearing would be held within 14 days.
DeWine also proposed mandating background checks for all firearm sales in Ohio, with the exceptions of “gifts for family members” and “certain other limited uses.” He also wants to strengthen penalties for existing gun crimes, including those for violent felons and others who continue to possess or use guns they are not legally allowed to possess, people who illegally give firearms to minors and buyers and sellers involved in straw purchases — informal transactions in which one person buys a gun illegally for another individual.
“We must target those who commit violent crime. Far too often, criminals who have absolutely no right to possess a gun under Ohio law are using guns nonetheless,” DeWine said. That’s who we have to go after.”
Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl on Monday called the 100-round magazines the shooter had “fundamentally problematic.”
DeWine’s proposal also included calls to increase access to state psychiatric hospitals for Ohioans, a focus on early mental health interventions in schools and expanding a school safety tipline where kids and adults can call or text anonymous reports about school violence.
DeWine said “time after time” social media has often shown “signs” from shooters that should have led to them being caught before they committed a mass shooting.
“We can do the things that I outlined today. We will do them. We can do meaningful things to protect lives,” DeWine said. “I believe in this state and I believe in it’s people. We can come together to do these things to save lives.”
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