Ohio governor says no to ‘Red Flag’ gun laws, instead pushes two new ideas for gun violence changes

New legislation also threatens three years in prison for private guns sales to felons.
Updated: Oct. 7, 2019 at 3:34 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in Columbus today, laid out his plan to change current laws to address gun violence in what he calls the STRONG Ohio Bill.

Standing alongside Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, the governor and Lt. Governor Jon Husted explained they’ve held hours of meetings with law enforcement, mental health officials and judges in the awake of the Dayton shootings that killed 9 in early August, to come up with legislation that will work.

“When I unveiled our overall STRONG Ohio plan in August, I committed that any legislation must be constitutional, must make a significant impact on the safety of Ohioans, and must be able to pass in the Ohio General Assembly,” said Governor DeWine. “Over the past two months, we have met with legislators, second-amendment groups, law enforcement, mayors, the behavioral health community, and many others to ensure our bill achieves these goals. We heard their concerns, and I believe that we have come up with better legislation as a result.”

“Safety Protection Order”

The first of two changes has to do with a situation described by Husted where a mother is concerned about her adult son who’s depressed, fired from his job, has been stockpiling guns and ammunition and might be abusing drugs and alcohol.

In this scenario, as long as the adult son has no criminal record, there’s nothing that can be done to step in and take the weapons. It would be a violation of his 2nd Amendment rights.

Some states in the U.S. have passed what are known as Red Flag laws.

In the scenario above, a mother could report it the “red flag,” and then the son would have 72 hours to report to court to explain why he should or shouldn’t be allowed to have guns.

DeWine said Red Flag laws don’t work and can actually be dangerous, especially for law enforcement.

If a person is given notice, that they need to show up to court in 72 hours, might that set them off to carry out a mass shooting?

If a person is ordered to turn over their firearms, DeWine said you now have a situation where authorities must go to a home to confiscate the weapons from a person and that could be deadly.

That’s why DeWine said his administration chose to focus on Ohio’s Pink Slip law.

In Ohio a person can be detained for up to 72 hours if they are potentially a danger to themselves or someone else.

In that 72 hours they are seen by mental health professional who then determine if they are a threat.

If they are, a court protection order can be granted to continue to hold them.

Under this law they are not allowed to buy firearms from that point on, but the law says nothing about guns they may already own.

DeWine wants the law changed to add drug and alcohol abuse as reasons someone can be pink slipped, not just for a perceived threat.

Also, if someone is deemed to be a danger not only can they not buy firearms, they’re also required to turn in, sell, or give to family members their firearms.

Steven McKee the manager of Silverado Arms a gun and ammo dealer in Mentor does not have a problem with that part of the governor’s plan.

“Because it is going through due process, in other words they’re giving the person the chance, they’re going to evaluate him, see what is going on and then make the determination from there,” McKee said.

The second piece of legislative change that DeWine is requesting is called a Seller Protection Certificate for private gun sales.

DeWine acknowledge he could not get universal background checks for private gun sales, meaning from one private citizen to another, passed in the Ohio Legislature.

Instead DeWine wants to create a system where a private citizen can know for a fact, the person they are about to sell a firearm to is legally allowed to own one.

For example if one neighbor wanted to buy a firearm from another neighbor, although not required the buyer could go to a sheriff’s department and get a Seller Protection Certificate that says they have passed a background check and are legal to own a gun.

Again this would not be a requirement.

DeWine is hoping responsible gun owners would want to have the piece of mind, knowing they are selling a gun to someone legally allowed to have one.

But to give this law teeth, the governor is adding that anyone who sells a gun to someone not legally allowed to have one, could face three years in prison.

State Senator Matt Dolan, a republican representing most of Cuyahoga County, is sponsoring the bill and while he’s encouraged these two changes could be passed, he has no feel if it will as most legislators have not even read the changes.

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