DeWine Ditched Red Flag Law, But His Alternative Is Also Problematic

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wanted to create a plan for Ohio that would respect people’s Second Amendment rights. He deserves to be commended for the effort.

To be fair, most of his proposals are actually fairly solid. While he does open up the background check system so anyone can make use of it when selling a firearm, he doesn’t mandate it, which is fine by me. A lot of his other proposals are along those lines.

However, a red flag law was one many in the state were pushing hard for. DeWine apparently felt that there was no way to do it without infringing on people’s rights. He was right, of course.

The problem is that his alternative may actually be just as bad.

In a news conference Monday afternoon, DeWine said that his Ohio Strong plan helps individuals who pose a danger to themselves and others, but also protects the Second Amendment rights of Ohioans. The plan would have to be passed by both chambers of the Ohio state legislature; the primary sponsor will be Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said that the DeWine administration initially sought ways to craft a red flag law that did not violate gun rights or due process rights, but that they concluded that this was not possible. A red flag law allows a judge to order the temporary confiscation of firearms from law enforcement if the person is deemed a threat to himself or others.

After conversations with law enforcement, health experts and Second Amendment groups, Husted said that the administration decided that working within the current pink slip laws was the best way to protect gun rights and reduce gun violence. The pink slip laws allow a person with a mental illness to be involuntarily committed to a hospital. Husted said the new legislation would expand the mental illness classification to include those addicted to drugs and suffering from alcoholism, which he said could lead them to violence.

The problem is that while alcohol consumption may lead to violence, that link isn’t nearly strong enough to justify taking away someone’s Second Amendment rights over it.

Further, alcohol is a legal substance. While alcoholism destroys people–I lost an uncle who was more like a brother to me to alcoholism–the fact remains that it’s a legal substance. Those who succumb to alcoholism are suffering from a disease, one that needs to be treated. They’re not remotely criminal in this action.

Nor is there any reason to believe a particular individual may or may not become violent due to their alcoholism.

The problem with making the link between alcohol and violence and using it to justify taking away someone’s Second Amendment rights is that it doesn’t require someone to be alcoholic to become violent while intoxicated. I’ve seen way too many bar fights in my life to believe otherwise. Someone can become violent the one and only time they consume alcohol, after all.

Look, I can take drug abuse being grounds for taking someone’s guns a little better. Generally, we’re talking about people who are breaking the law to obtain drugs in the first place, so a case could be made that they’re more likely to engage in criminal activity adjacent to their addiction. I don’t agree with it–not everyone is addicted to drugs they obtained illegally, after all–but I can at least see the thinking.

Alcohol, however, is a very different ballgame and DeWine should be ashamed of himself for even considering something like this.