After signing Stand Your Ground, DeWine pledges to fight for gun reforms

A day after signing a controversial gun rights bill into law, Gov. Mike DeWine pledged Tuesday to again push for reforms that he says will reduce gun violence — a promise he made after many Daytonians shouted “Do Something” at a vigil following the Oregon District mass shooting.

“I’m not giving up — far from it. Far from it. I’m coming back to the Legislature again,” he said. “I am persistent. I am stubborn. I’m back to my friends in the Legislature to say, ‘We can do this.’ I’m confident it’s going to get done.”

In October 2019, DeWine and his allies introduced the Strong Ohio bill that called for a slate of reforms, including improving gun background checks, expanding 72-hour mental health holds and increasing penalties for crimes committed with firearms.

The legislation, however, stalled in the Ohio General Assembly where pro-Second Amendment legislators had little interest in DeWine’s package.

On Tuesday, DeWine reiterated his support for fixing the national background check system by requiring adding outstanding felony warrants to the database and making other changes. He also stressed the need to hand down tougher sentences for violent criminals who illegally possess guns.

“These are things that need to happen,” he said.

State Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, who sponsored Strong Ohio in the last Ohio General Assembly, said he plans to re-introduce the bill this legislative session. “I’ll continue to fight to educate people that it’s not a gun control bill, it’s an end-gun-violence bill,” he said.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said Strong Ohio lacked support in the Senate last year and the Senate has shifted to be even more conservative on 2nd Amendment issues this year.

State Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, sponsored Stand Your Ground legislation in the House, said he supports some elements of DeWine’s gun reform package, such as improving data added to the national background check system and increasing criminal penalties for certain crimes involving guns.

But Koehler said he and other gun owners oppose elements of the package that they believe could open the door to building a national registry of guns and gun owners.

He praised DeWine for signing into law the bill that will remove the duty to retreat — if possible — from danger in public places. Under current Ohio law, people must try to leave danger in public places before using deadly force in self-defense.

DeWine said he made a campaign promise to sign Stand Your Ground legislation when he ran for governor and the change puts Ohio in the majority of states.

Gun control groups blasted DeWine for backing the new law, saying it would encourage vigilantes, make police work more difficult and put minority communities in more danger.

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