DeWine Gun Bill Gets Frosty Reception In First Hearing

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s legislation that would increase the use of the state’s “pink slip” civil commitment law and lower the standard for prosecuting someone who transferred a gun to a prohibited person received a cool reception from Democrats during the bill’s first hearing in the legislature on Tuesday, while the bill’s sponsor in the Senate says the measure “threads the needle” between protecting the rights of gun owners and stopping those prohibited from having a gun from illegally acquiring one.


[State Sen. Matt] Dolan’s bill, which was written with the governor’s office, changes three areas of Ohio law. It expands civil commitment or “pink slip” laws to include both a process for removing firearms from people in court-ordered treatment as well as adding drug and alcohol addiction to the list of reasons why. It increases the penalties for certain gun crimes. And it creates a voluntary background check system for private firearm sales.

But Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-Cincinnati, repeatedly asked Dolan whether Thomas’ own bill that would require background checks at gun shows or even universal background checks for all transfers would be more effective at preventing people who can’t legally own a gun from buying them.

There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that requiring background checks is actually effective, and in fact there have been studies that have shown no increase at all after universal background checks have been implemented. Having said that, the proposal offered by Dolan also has some issues in my opinion. The biggest problem is the cumbersome process of going to your local sheriff to get a “seller protection certificate”.

The “seller protection certificate” would not create a requirement for a background check for private gun sales, but [Lt. Gov. Jon] Husted said it would create “an easy way for buyers to prove they are legally allowed to own a gun and to give private sellers peace of mind and a responsible way to sell a gun to someone who they may not know.”

Husted said potential buyers can request background checks from sheriffs’ offices, which can issue a “seller protection certificate” good for 90 days. That certificate or a valid concealed carry weapons permit can be presented to private sellers as proof they’ve passed a background check.

Husted said private sellers won’t have to require sellers to have that certificate, but will have an incentive to use the system – there’s a penalty of up to three years in prison for selling a gun to a criminal.


While some Democrats say the proposal doesn’t go far enough, there are Republican lawmakers who fret that the proposals go too far. Still, Ohio’s Governor still says he’s confident that the measures will draw enough bi-partisan support in the Republican-controlled legislature to get approval.

DeWine told reporters Monday that he remains optimistic about the bill’s chances of becoming law despite opposition from Democrats, who think the bill doesn’t go far enough, and Republicans like House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, who told The Dispatch last week he still has serious constitutional concerns about the way the bill is written.

“I think we’re going to get it passed,” DeWine said. “No one said this was going to be easy. But, we’re going to get it done.”

We’ll see. Right now, based on conversations I’ve had with several Second Amendment activists in Ohio, I’d say the chance of passage is no better than 50-50 at the moment.


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