Sunday’s mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, which left at least nine dead and 27 wounded, has brought greater attention to possible gun law reforms in the Buckeye state. Jeremy Pelzer, a politics reporter for Cleveland.com, points to Gov. Mike DeWine’s pro-gun stance as a potential barrier.
“The governor told reporters yesterday that everything is on the table when it comes to gun control measures, however the governor campaigned on being pro-gun,” Pelzer told CBSN. “He earned a favorable rating from the NRA and so it remains to be seen what exactly will be passed.”
DeWine said that he is open to talking about reforming gun policies in the state. Pelzer confirmed that DeWine has been pushing for “red flag laws,” which would allow authorities the right to confiscate weapons from people deemed to be a threat to society.
DeWine’s predecessor, Republican John Kasich, pushed gun control initiatives that included red flag laws, outlawing armor piercing bullets and stopping third party purchases of weapons. Peltzer said Kasich “did not have a good relationship with the legislature,” and said Ohio lawmakers are likely to be more open to working with DeWine on the matter.
But any meaningful change will need to amend previously enacted pro-gun legislation. In 2006, the Ohio state legislature passed a law which stopped local governments from passing restrictive gun laws, canceled more than 80 local gun laws previously in place and ended the local assault-weapons bans already in effect.
Ohio’s two senators, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, each spoke at the Sunday afternoon press conference. Both Brown and Portman said the quick action by first responders on the scene in the Oregon District may have saved hundreds of lives.
“My first response, of course, is sadness,” Brown said. “My next thought is anger at our country, society and Congress for not doing anything about this.”
Brown noted that the House of Representatives in February passed a bipartisan bill that would require background checks on gun sales. He blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not bringing the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Brown said it is a bill that President Trump could sign “in one day.”
Portman didn’t mention the bill but instead pointed to suicide and addiction rates in Ohio as well as mental health issues.
Pelzer cautioned against any type of optimism that gun reforms will take place in Ohio, whose legislature is made up of 47 Democrats and 85 Republicans.
“The legislature here in Ohio has been very, very pro gun rights over the past few years,” he said. “They have loosened gun laws in a number of ways. For example, they now allow you to hold a concealed weapon in a daycare, parts of airports, place like that. And so there might be a chance of a red flag law passing, but beyond that, things like universal background checks, I think it’s very unlikely that this legislature would pass that.”