Sponsor Of DeWine's Gun Bill Defends Proposal, Saying It Will Pass

Oct 21, 2019

The sponsor of Gov. Mike DeWine’s gun violence proposal said it's a plan that can pass - though it's getting criticism for not including mandatory background checks or a red flag gun seizure law.

Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said there’s a simple reason the required background checks plan DeWine called for right after the Dayton mass shooting isn’t in his bill.

“It wouldn't pass, wouldn't pass in the legislature. So I want to make meaningful change that can pass," Dolan said.

There is a voluntary background check for private gun sales, and Dolan said sellers won’t risk the three-year prison sentence that’s in the bill for selling a gun to somebody that they don't know.

The bill also would expand the law allowing for involuntary hospitalization of people with mental illness to include substance abuse issues. But Dolan admitted there’s a problem with enough bed space.

“Presently there is not. We are working on a bill that would free up beds for folks who are involuntary committed," Dolan said.

He said they’re working on a bill to allow for alternatives for people sent to treatment facilities through the courts.

The so-called STRONG Ohio proposal comes to a legislature that, for the last two decades, has been expanding gun rights – allowing for concealed carry into bars, day cares and some parts of airports and on college campuses, as well as reducing the number of hours needed to get a conceal carry permit. 

Lawmakers in the House are now considering a bill that would allow for concealed carrying of weapons without a permit – what’s known as constitutional carry. And two representatives are also talking about reviving the Stand Your Ground self-defense bill, which was dramatically changed last year after a veto threat from then Gov. John Kasich. Of those, Dolan says now’s not the time.

“I would argue those bills are tone deaf to the feelings that are out there….so I would very much hope that those bills do not go anywhere and do not become part of Senate Bill 221," said Dolan.

But Democrats who have long pushed for gun law changes are not on board with the proposal from Dolan and DeWine right now. Minority Leader Emilia Sykes put out a statement after the introduction of the STRONG Ohio proposal, saying it was weak and showed the influence of the gun lobby in Ohio.