I’ve been critical of Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine. After all, he’s a Republican governor who jumped on the gun control bandwagon in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in Dayton. His plan wasn’t particularly good, either from a gun rights perspective or a gun control perspective.
Frankly, no one liked it.
As a result, I haven’t been particularly trusting of Dewine, even if he’s signed some pretty good pro-gun legislation.
Yet a new measure he signed that could have included a provision that might have made me rethink things.
You see, the bill would have done wonders to end mass incarceration in Ohio.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently signed a massive criminal justice reform bill, a testament to the work of activists proposing legislation since the Black Lives Matter Movement. Not included in that reform package, however, was the repeal of a law that incarcerates hundreds of people: Weapons Under Disability.
This law criminalizes possessing a gun while under indictment for violent crimes and/or drug offenses. Even if a defendant is found innocent of the original felony charge, they could be incarcerated for possessing an otherwise lawful firearm while pending adjudication. Weapons Under Disability strips the right to legally obtain a firearm without due process: that right is stolen the minute a prosecutor files a charge.
Due process is the precept of our criminal justice system. When someone is accused of a crime, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This presumption of innocence protects defendants’ liberty until a jury determines that liberty is a safety risk − until due process is followed. But, what happens when due process isn’t respected? What happens when that constitutional disrespect cuts across racial lines? Our jails needlessly swell and our communities are left broken.
Now, I understand the thinking about Weapons Under Disability laws. Some might argue that these aren’t really a repeal of someone’s rights without due process, but a suspension, not unlike a red flag law.
To me, if that’s your argument, then you’ve already screwed up trying to sell me on this.
While I can see why you’d want to remove someone’s right to keep and bear arms if they’re accused of some crime, particularly a violent one, these are still people who have been convicted of nothing. They’re still innocent so far as the government is concerned. Or, at least, they’re supposed to be viewed as such.
Weapons Under Disability laws, however, suggest they’re guilty, all without standing trial.
I’m sorry, but I have a huge problem with that. Especially since people could still be prosecuted for violating such laws in Ohio even if they were found innocent of the original charge. In other words, they were to be treated as guilty even if they were, in fact, innocent.
Repealing such a law wouldn’t be popular with the anti-gun crowd, but nothing short of total disarmament will really be that popular with them.
Still, a lot of people who don’t know any better but aren’t actively anti-gun won’t like this. Particularly in Ohio.
That’s likely why lawmakers skipped doing so. That’s a shame, too, because this is a law that needs to die horribly.
Being accused of a crime isn’t grounds for you to lose your right to keep and bear arms. The government’s “interest” is irrelevant and frankly, after Bruen, I don’t think such laws would survive constitutional challenges. For Ohioans, though, it won’t matter.