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DeWine Battling Comparisons To Kasich’s ‘Red Flag’ Proposal

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, left, introduced a red flag bill, just like former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (right).

One of Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed gun law changes in the wake of the Dayton shooting is an idea that’s been talked about before and passed in 17 other states. The bill more commonly known as a "red flag law" would provide a way to remove guns from people who are thought to be dangerous to themselves or others.

However, DeWine is now battling both Republican lawmakers who are reluctant to embrace the measure and Ohio's former governor, who tried to push through a similar plan last year.

DeWine's proposal would allow a person who is reported to police as being potentially dangerous and as having access to weapons to have a hearing within three days before a judge, prior to the seizure of any guns. It would also allow emergency orders to be issued.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and DeWine are being very deliberate with their language.

“That’s the primary difference between what was, what was referred to as a ‘red flag’ law, and what we are referring to, which is different than that, as a ‘safety protection order’, which provides for that due process,” Husted said.

DeWine added, “And look, let me just also emphasize, when we say ‘safety protection order,’ we kind of wrestled with what to call it.”

The governor said in April he was considering something like this.

DeWine and Husted appear to be distancing themselves from former Gov. John Kasich, who's speaking out about ideas he brought up in his final year in office.

“A lot of the things that he’s talking about are things that we talked about for a significant period of time,” Kasich told reporters from WHIO and others in Dayton a few days after the shootings, on the day President Trump came to visit the area.

Kasich referenced some proposals he floated in March 2018, after convening a group of law enforcement, community leaders and others to talk about guns. A "red flag" law was one of the recommendations.

“You just wonder, had this been done a little bit ago, six months ago, eight months ago, whatever – you can’t predict it – but if we’d enacted a 'red flag' law back then, in light of what we’ve seen about this guy’s behavior, the question is could somebody have done something?” Kasich said.

Kasich wasn’t the NRA’s candidate when he first ran for governor in 2010. But he did sign many gun rights expansions sent to him by the Republican-dominated legislature in his first six years in office, including laws allowing guns in bars, at daycares and on college campuses.

In October 2017, after 59 people were killed in Las Vegas, Kasich started talking about finding common ground on the issue. When 17 people were shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. four months later, Kasich became more public in his change of heart – altering a page of his website from “Defending the Second Amendment” to “Common Sense on the Second Amendment.”

Then in March 2018, he introduced that package of gun law changes, but said he wasn’t going to get in the way.

“This is something they have to work on. I don’t intend to browbeat them or – I’m going to encourage them every step of the way," Kasich said then.

Kasich later went on to veto a stripped down version of the so-called "Stand Your Ground" self-defense bill, which was overwhelmingly supported by Republican lawmakers.

The Kasich-backed "red flag" bill had one sponsor and never got out of a House committee. However, Kasich has said that he feels his proposal “plowed the ground” for DeWine’s plan to eventually be successful.

But Husted said it may have done more harm than good.

“We have to overcome the negative momentum that was created in the past in the eyes of people who oppose 'red flag' laws because they perceive, when they hear the term ‘red flag’, they perceive that as somebody can come, seize my property without due process rights. What we’re trying to help people understand – that’s not what we’re doing,” Husted said.

Husted said this “safety protection orders” proposal would make sure a person whose weapons are seized would get support services they need so they would be less likely to commit violence, to overdose or to take their own life.

He added the DeWine administration has been talking with gun rights groups to make it happen.

“We worked with them, we’re putting those protections in place. And that’s why this is very different than what Gov. Kasich proposed and why this has a very good chance of becoming law," Husted said.

Many Democrats have long pushed for some of the kinds of proposals that Kasich talked about last year, and DeWine is floating now.

State Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said she’ll team up with Democrats to reintroduce bills requiring universal background checks and raising the age to buy a firearm to 21, and will add her name to an existing Democratic red flag measure.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.