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After Dayton Shooting, How Will Ohio's Legislature Approach Guns?

Mourners gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press
Mourners gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.

When Gov. Mike DeWine spoke to a vigil in Dayton on Sunday night, he was met with chants of “Do something.” He's expected to speak about what might be done on the subject of guns at a press conference Tuesday.

Just hours after a gunman killed nine people and injured 26 others in Dayton's Oregon District, Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow spoke with the governor at the Ohio State Fair. The governor declined to get into specifics about new gun regulations but said "everything was on the table."

Chow says the proposals include expanding background checks, creating a "red flag" law, or requiring gun sales go through federally-licensed officials.

"Those are things that have been swirling around the Statehouse today, those are things that seem to be part of the discussion moving forward when we talk about potential gun regulation," Chow says.

Ultimately, though, it's not up to DeWine. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has to be on board, and for years they've been resistant to any possible restrictions on gun rights.

Former Gov. John Kasich left office frustrated they didn’t pass what he considered "common sense" gun control measures, such as that red flag law, which allows law enforcement to confiscate guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Even now, Chow says he doesn't know how likely action on legislation is.

"I know it'll be a big fight," Chow says. "There's a lot of Republicans from rural areas who do not want to budge on this issue. They've said that it's a constitutional issue. It's something where they believe the proposals that have been brought up have not been fully thought out."

But Chow says if the governor throws his political weight behind more moderate proposals, he may get lawmakers on board. That poses another problem, though.

"What you'll hear from people who have been fighting for stronger gun regulations is that they might think that whatever kind of compromise DeWine might reach with Republican leaders, it might not be strong enough," he says.

At a White House press conferenceMonday, President Trump also seemed to indicate support for expanded background checks or red flag laws on the federal level. But it's unclear if any such legislation could get anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.