COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Two months after first announcing plans to reduce gun violence in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine unveiled new proposal legislation that he claims will protect law-abiding gun owners and get through the General Assembly.
“This bill meets all three of these criteria,” DeWine said.
The administration’s STRONG Ohio measure would enhance background checks to ensure buyers, including those at gun shows or through private sales, are legally allowed to own firearms.
It would also allow judges to require those with mental issues to give up their weapons as well as create tougher penalties for repeat gun offenders.
“What the plan does is put dangerous people, criminals on notice, that if you’re a threat to yourself or others, you are not legally allowed to possess weapons and we’re going to build a system to ensure that you don’t,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted.
Among those invited to speak was Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown.
Brown said while mass shootings like the one in Dayton in August are tragic, so is the violence that happens on the streets all too often.
“The same shooter, the same criminal, over and over in our community. By giving local judges that power to keep most dangerous offenders in prisons longer will undoubtedly save lives,” said Brown.
Perhaps the most powerful speaker was Whitney Austin, who survived a mass shooting a year ago in Cincinnati. She called the measure an important step.
“Let us not lose the momentum from this inspirational moment. You and you alone have the powers to do something, so do it,” Austin said.
The next step will be up to the legislature.
“Working together, we will do something. We will do something that makes a difference,” DeWine said.
The governor’s proposals are going to be meeting resistance from some gun-right organizations.
The National Rifle Association is already opposing the plans, and the Buckeye Firearms Association in Ohio has not yet taken a stand.
One local advocate and firearms instructor is questioning whether any of the proposal changes have made a difference to prevent previous shootings.
“We’re looking at these mass shootings and it is the issue that, you know records were kept from law enforcement by the doctors because of HIPPA. In most cases, that’s not necessarily the case, but in a lot of cases there were other issues that would have been dealt with,” said Rick Kalida.
Kalida said a number of laws are already in the books but are not sufficiently enforced. He suggests finding ways to improve in those areas before implementing new laws that could be misused.