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Gov. DeWine Rejects Criticism Over His Gun Policy Proposal

Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a public inauguration ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press
Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a public inauguration ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

Gov. Mike DeWine continues to defend his "STRONG Ohio" gun legislation proposal, details of which he released Monday.

DeWine’s proposal to curb gun violence includes enhanced voluntary background checks in private gun sales. If a criminal purchased a gun, a seller could face penalties of up to three years in prison for the sale.

But it's a few steps away from the idea of mandatory background checks that DeWine previously proposed, and which is widely popular among Ohio voters.

“We’re doing something I think is better, which is giving people a real disincentive as well as an incentive to have a background check done,” DeWine said Wednesday on WOSU's All Sides With Ann Fisher.

DeWine's bill also does not include a so-called "red flag" gun seizure law. Instead, it creates a formal process for taking the guns of some people already getting mental health treatment.

“The money we put out, for example the $675 million for wraparound services in our schools for kids, can be used for mental health,” DeWine says. “They can also be used for other counseling. It can be used for any number of ways to identify young kids who are having some problems.”

DeWine’s proposal comes two months after the mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine people and injured more than two dozen.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emelia Sykes also spoke on All Sides, saying she appreciates the conversation about new gun policies but does not think the governor’s policy goes far enough to make a difference.

“It says to me that the gun lobby has the Ohio General Assembly by the neck and they have strangled our progress for decades, and they continue to do so,” Sykes says. 

Sykes points out that recent surveys show that most Ohioans and Americans support universal background checks.

“We are backtracking from what is meaningful and what could be helpful in curbing gun violence, not only in mass shootings but the intimate partner violence that happens using guns, as well as the community violence and street violence that happens in communities every day in Ohio,” says Sykes.

DeWine says his goal was to back legislation that upholds constitutional rights and could pass the legislature.

“While it doesn’t check the box of a universal background check, it gets the job done,” DeWine says.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.