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DeWine is in a tight spot after GOP lawmakers approve a controversial gun bill

guns in a case at Columbus gun store
Daniel Konik
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Statehouse News Bureau
Guns in a case at Columbus gun store.

Gov. Mike DeWine now has to decide whether to sign it as Republican voters are deciding who to vote for in the May primary.

The Ohio House has passed a Senate-approved bill that wipes out the need for permits to carry concealed weapons pretty much along party lines with Republicans voting for it, Democrats voting against it. The bill now goes to Governor Mike DeWine, just two months ahead of the May 3 primary where he’s facing two opponents who tout themselves as being pro-gun. DeWine, however, has sent mixed signals on gun policies. In December 2021, Ohio Public Television's Karen Kasler asked DeWine whether he would sign this bill. He said he wants to see how it's written.

When asked if the timing was a motive for passing the controversial legislation now, Republican House Speaker Bob Cupp said, “The Legislature does what it deems good public policy so that’s our focus.”

Bob Cupp 092221
Andy Chow
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Statehouse News Bureau
House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) answers questions about bills addressing vaccine mandates after House session on Wednesday.

Last January, DeWine signed the controversial "Stand your Ground" bill (SB175) which removes the requirement for a person to retreat before shooting someone in self-defense. DeWine says he signed it because he said he had promised to do so during his campaign.

But DeWine has also said he doesn't consider guns to be a high priority issue. He embraced some controls on guns, especially after the August 2019 mass shooting near Dayton that killed nine and injured 17 others. Just two months later, he stood alongside then Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat who is now running for governor in her party's primary, when he announced his "Strong Ohio" gun reform plan.

Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) proposed an unsuccessful amendment on the floor of the Ohio House to allow courts to deny people thought to be a danger to themselves or others from having firearms.
The Ohio Channel
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The Ohio Channel
Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) proposed an unsuccessful amendment on the floor of the Ohio House to allow courts to deny people thought to be a danger to themselves or others from having firearms.

House Democrats tried unsuccessfully to add amendments to this bill that would have put some controls on guns. One that was aimed at preventing people with certain criminal offenses on their records from being able to carry concealed guns. Another would have allowed family members or police agencies to ask a court to temporarily restrict a person's access to firearms if they pose a danger to themselves or others. That last provision is similar to one DeWine himself proposed in his own gun reform measure.

Last year, after signing the "Stand Your Ground" bill, DeWine tried to insert some parts of his gun plan into his proposed two-year state budget but lawmakers didn't embrace those proposals.

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