DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Today at the University of Dayton, state officials gathered to offer their vision for the future of Dayton.
During the Impact Ohio Dayton Regional Conference, key government officials, business leaders, and community members discussed issues important to the region and local communities.
Speakers at the event included Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Mayor Nan Whaley, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
Lt. Governor Husted played a key role in helping Governor Mike DeWine draft the just announced STRONG Ohio bill that seeks to address Ohio gun laws.
Earlier this week, Mayor Whaley and Husted joined together with Gov. DeWine to help announce the bill and detail some of the initiatives created by it’s passing.
Husted acknowledged that no bill would be able to make everyone happy, but that the officials behind the bill did try to speak to a wide variety of professionals in various fields.
“We listened to a lot of people,” said Husted, after giving his speech. “We listed to health care experts, we listen to law enforcement, we listened to gun rights activists; if you had an opinion we wanted to hear it.”
Husted said the proposal has strong bipartisan support in the General Assembly and he expects the measures to pass.
Some officials and activists have been grateful that action is being taken but have also expressed frustration that the bill does not do enough to address critical issues related to gun laws.
One of the officials who has voiced that criticism is Mayor Nan Whaley.
Mayor Whaley’s speech immediately followed Lt. Governor Husted’s remarks at the conference. Her speech focused entirely on the continued need to push for further gun legislation.
She praised the STRONG Ohio bill for being the first piece of serious gun legislation she has seen taken up by the Ohio General Assembly in her life. Still, she said, the bill’s primary focus on mental health program expansions and tougher sentencing on crimes involving guns does not do enough to address limiting access to some weapons.
The bill does not address several controversial issues such as red-flag laws, bump stocks, magazine size, or restricting access to assault weapons. Whaley and others believe that addressing these concerns is vital to saving lives.
Whaley cited the Oregon District shootings in her remarks. She said the ability for the shooter to be able to kill 9 people and injure 27 more in just 32 seconds is proof that these weapons should not be easily accessible. She said the proposed bill does nothing to address these concerns.
“The crisis of gun violence is not going to go away,” said Whaley in her speech. “Dayton was the 250th mass shooting in the United States this year and we are not even the most recent one.”
“It is time to take action,” said Whaley.
Whaley said that improving access to mental health care is important but “deeply inadequate.”
“Research has consistently shown that mental health issues are not the cause of these shootings,” said Whaley. She continued by saying the Dayton shooter was receiving mental health services and they were not enough to prevent the shooting.
“More good guys with guns won’t prevent these shootings, more mental health programs alone won’t stop these shootings, especially if they aren’t properly funded,” said Whaley. “The only answer is stronger limitations on access to guns.”
In the WDTN.com Exclusive below, view Mayor Whaley’s remarks:
“There’s certainly a change in the local conversation as it relates to the shooting that occurred here,” said Husted. “That doesn’t mean that everybody has had a change of heart on this. There’s a way that we can make it safer without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Husted remarked that he has received support from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the past and is also a gun owner.
The NRA did not participate in drafting the bill but Husted said he has not heard from anyone that they are upset about any of the proposals.
“We haven’t heard [the NRA] complain about it, which is good news,” said Husted.
Husted defended the bill by saying it may not be what everyone from both sides wants, but that it is a large step in addressing the Oregon District crowd that chanted “Do something!” towards Governor DeWine.
“I hope they know we listened,” said Husted.
In the WDTN.com Web Exclusive below, view the full interview with Lt. Governor Husted:Grab the FREE WDTN News App from the Apple Store or Google play. Stay up to date with all the local news, weather and sports as well as live newscasts and events as they happen.