Gov. DeWine introduces “Strong Ohio” bill to combat gun violence

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, with Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley at his side, announced the “STRONG Ohio” bill that will be introduced in the Ohio General Assembly.

Gov. DeWine said that the bill is a “comprehensive approach to violence reduction” and is designed to do three things:

  • Better help individuals who pose danger to themselves and others
  • Enhance safety of law enforcement and first responders
  • Protect Ohio families and reducing violence in all communities

Since appearing in the Oregon District after the shooting on Aug. 4 and being interrupted on stage with chants of “do something!,” Gov. DeWine said there were already measures that have taken place in response that did not require legislative action. Those include:

  • Expanding the Safer Ohio Tipline (Do Something, Say Something)
  • Budgeting $675 million in wraparound services, including mental health and behavioral services
  • Enhancing security measures at non-profits and religious organizations

However, there are many items that need legislative action.

According to Gov. DeWine, State Sen. Matt Dolan will be the primary sponsor of the bill in the Ohio Senate, saying “our STRONG Ohio bill is ready to be introduced.”

Gov. DeWine said the bill will help those who pose a danger to themselves or others. It will also create a process to separate firearms from those who cannot legally possess them.

“Our STRONG Ohio Bill will enhance the state and federal background check systems to ensure more thorough results and prevent those under a weapons disability from purchasing a firearm,” Gov. DeWine said.

The bill will also include additional resources for local law enforcement agencies to address and combat gun violence, Gov. DeWine stated.

Other components of the bill include:

  • Ensure due process at all probate court hearings
  • Ensure those legally declared by a judge to be a danger do not have access to firearms
  • Give family members of those who may be a danger to self or others because of drug dependency or chronic alcoholism the ability to more easily petition the probate court for court-ordered treatment
  • Mandate the entry of certain protection orders and arrest warrants for serious crimes into state and federal background check databases
  • Create a new private sale background check system process that will increase number of background checks conducted in Ohio
  • Create a “legal safe harbor” for firearms sellers who require private-sale background checks
  • Increase penalties for those who sell or provide a firearm to someone legally prohibited from possessing a gun
  • Give judges a range of sentences for felony cases in which a gun was either possessed, brandished, or used
  • Increase the penalty for those who are found with a gun while legally prohibited from possessing a firearm
  • Increase the penalty for selling a gun to a minor
  • Increase penalties for straw purchases and knowingly possessing a straw-purchased gun

In the process of consulting a number of statewide officials, including mayors, law enforcement agencies, and mental health professionals, Gov. DeWine said there were three rules for the legislation that was being drafted.

  • It must be constitutional
  • It must make a significant impact on the safety of all Ohioans
  • It must pass the Ohio General Assembly

Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who played a major part in the drafting of the STRONG Ohio bill, said that it is not a red-flag law.

“We are not proposing a red-flag law,” Lt. Gov. Husted said. “But we didn’t quit on the idea that we needed a better answer.”

Lt. Gov. Husted also said that the law does not infringe upon the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

“I want to be crystal clear,” Lt. Gov. Husted said. “Everything we are doing places no new restrictions or limitations on a law-abiding citizen to own a gun.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said that the legislation was in response to the “do something” chants, saying the bill could go further, but is a good first step.

“I’ve made it clear to Gov. DeWine that I think there are things in the bill that could go a bit further and I know this bill does not go far enough to end gun violence in our communities,” Mayor Whaley said. “But this is an important start.”

Whaley said this is the first time in her career that she has seen the state take action on combatting gun violence in Ohio communities.

“Governing is difficult,” Whaley said. “Change can be slow.”

Many state legislators have yet to read the bill, so it is unknown when the bill be officially introduced on the floor of the Ohio Senate. However, Gov. DeWine believes the Stronger Ohio bill will make a difference.

“This bill and all of the Strong Ohio plan will make an impact on the safety of Ohioans,” Gov. DeWine said. “It will save lives.”

State Senator Peggy Lehner, of Kettering, declared her support for the bill, saying:

“Governor DeWine’s STRONG Ohio bill represents an extremely thoughtful approach to improving gun safety laws in Ohio. He should be commended for his work to diligently develop meaningful legislation that has the strong potential of reducing gun violence and, at the same time, stands a significant chance of passage in the Ohio legislature. While this legislation may not be everything many have wished for, it is a realistic starting point for lawmakers who want to do something. I hope my colleagues in both the House and the Senate will embrace this legislation and work towards its swift passage.”

State Senator Peggy Lehner
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