At some point today, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will unveil his gun plan, assuming that he hasn’t by the time you read this. It was inevitable that DeWine would be pressured into doing something following the deadly mass shooting in Dayton. The media has been clamoring for it for some time and DeWine is apparently ready.
As of this writing, we still don’t know what the plan will entail, though there are some hints about it. Cam touched on some of those yesterday. He also touched on how anti-gunners are upset that it just isn’t enough for them.
However, even with a more subdued approach than anti-gunners might like, DeWine’s efforts still are facing an uphill climb.
Monday afternoon, DeWine will unveil long-awaited legislation on gun control and mental health, including strengthening Ohio’s background check system and removing potentially dangerous people from their guns.
Does it have a chance in Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature? In recent years, Ohio’s lawmakers have done more to expand access to firearms than restrict them. A proposal in the Ohio House would allow people to carry concealed guns without training or a background check.
DeWine has some remaining political capital after raising gas taxes and pushing for a nuclear energy bailout to tackle another political third rail: gun control. That capital is built, in part, by GOP lawmakers’ frustration with former Gov. John Kasich’s “my way or the highway” approach. In comparison, DeWine is collaborative and collegial.
But any DeWine proposal will need to get through the Ohio House of Representatives, where Speaker Larry Householder touts an A+ rating from the NRA and ran a campaign ad featuring him blowing a television to smithereens.
Top House Democrat, Rep. Emilia Sykes, said significant gun reform doesn’t have a chance in that environment.
So that leaves the Ohio Senate, where Senate President Larry Obhof, who also has an A+ rating from the NRA, says he likes some of the changes that DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted proposed to protect due process rights.
DeWine is trotting out his plan, but the question is whether his party will embrace it. Right now, I’m not particularly convinced.
While the media is quick to point out that the public is offering support for these measures, we can also see evidence that such support isn’t particularly strong. It’s not enough to win votes, but it damn sure can lose them unless a very tight line is walked.
The mental health aspects DeWine seems to be talking about are solid steps. While anti-gunners claim involuntary confinement will continue to stigmatize mental illness, it’s far more important that legitimately dangerous people be removed from the population, at least for a little while, rather than just take any firearms they might have. After all, it doesn’t take a gun to kill dozens upon dozens of people. Leaving them on the streets doesn’t make society safer.
As Cam noted yesterday, though:
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.
If DeWine finds a way to overcome the objections of the gun rights community, he may well get his proposals passed easily enough. If not, well, at least the right people will be disappointed.