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Gov. DeWine's Gun Bill Faces Changes In Ohio Senate

Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) gestures during a discussion about the Ohio Senate version of the budget as President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) looks on.
Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio
Senate Finance Chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and Ohio Senate president Larry Obhof (R-Medina).

Gov. Mike DeWine's gun bill is likely to see some changes before it reaches the Ohio Senate for a vote.

SB221 seeks to expand court authority to remove firearms from people considered a threat and to increase background checks before private gun sales.

Since being introduced in October it’s already had three hearings, with testimony from the bill’s supporters, in the Senate’s Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

The committee’s chairman, state Sen. Bill Coley (R-Hamilton) said amendments are likely. But he says there is agreement on some less controversial parts of the bill.

“Making sure people who are in a mental health crisis get help,” Coley said. “People who are inside a hospital receiving mental health crisis help don't need a gun with them. And I support making sure law enforcement has accurate information at every moment.”

Coley added it’s too early to tell whether the measures for gun removal and expanded background check will survive.

“I mean you're talking about universal background checks—that's a joke if the information is not accurate,” Coley said. “And the information is currently not accurate.”

The bill’s author, state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said he’s optimistic that the bill will make it through intact once enough legislators are educated on what’s in it.

“I'm hoping people get more and more comfortable and realize that not every gun bill is a violation of Second Amendment right, and you don't have to ban guns to increase the ability to create a safer environment for kids and on the streets and for everyone,” Dolan said.

Dolan said he plans to submit some changes in wording, including that people with a drug addiction will only be forced into treatment if they are at risk of violence.

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee will hear testimony from opponents of the bill before amendments and a vote.