Ohio Governor Will Roll Out Gun Control Measures On Monday

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will officially release the legislative language for several gun control proposals on Monday, including a “red flag” law as well as expanding the background check requirements for firearms transfers in Ohio, but it remains to be seen if any of the governor’s proposals can muster the support they need to pass out of the legislature. The Republican-dominated House and Senate are not rubber stamps for any of the governor’s proposals, and in fact lawmakers have already introduced several alternatives to DeWine’s legislation.

Meanwhile, gun control advocates are already complaining that the proposals likely won’t go far enough to satisfy them.

Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence Founder Toby Hoover said stronger background checks will save lives and expanded access to mental health treatment is a much needed step.

But she cautioned the DeWine administration against “the overemphasis on extending criminal penalties, allowing those deemed possibly suicidal or homicidal to keep their guns until hearings three days later, and mandatory institutionalization that further stigmatizes mental illness.”

This is a fascinating quote by Hoover. How is it, for instance, that institutionalizing someone in a mental health crisis “stigmatizes mental illness”, but calling someone dangerous, taking their guns, and then leaving them to their own devices isn’t stigmatizing at all? Hoover is also clearly supportive of ex parte hearings, where the subject of the red flag order isn’t even present to give their side of the story. That’s one of the big problems that gun owners have with many red flag proposals; a lack of due process that allows for firearms to be taken without any opportunity to defend yourself.

The governor is also expected to take steps to ensure that those in most desperate need of mental health treatment can get it

On any given day, about 97% of the state’s 1,065 beds in its six psychiatric hospitals are occupied, including hundreds of beds taken by people being restored to competency so they can face misdemeanor non-violent criminal charges.

It’s amazing to me that Ohio, with 11,000,000 people living there, only has 1,065 hospital beds in state-run psychiatric hospitals, especially when you consider the fact that these hospitals are not just treating mental illness but drug addiction. Ohio had the 2nd highest drug overdose death rate in the nation in 2017, with nearly nearly 5,000 overdose deaths. It’s a shame that neither party in the state is calling for expanding the number of beds or hospitals. I imagine you could double the number of inpatient beds in Ohio and still not come close to addressing the need.

Much of what DeWine proposes on Monday will be unobjectionable or even welcome to gun owners, including increasing penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Unfortunately for the governor, he’s still going to have to overcome the objections of 2nd Amendment groups and many lawmakers if his plans for a “red flag” law expanding background checks don’t address their concerns about due process, privacy, and staying on the right side of the Constitution.