Oregon District survivor asks DeWine to veto gun bill, gun rights group urges him to sign it

A survivor of Dayton’s deadliest shooting called on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday to veto a bill that would allow concealed carry of handguns without a permit, while a gun rights group urged the governor to sign it.

“My father, Derek Fudge, was shot and killed beside me in the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton,” said Dion Green. In August 2019 a gunman killed nine and injured 37 in the city’s historic Oregon District.

The Buckeye Firearms Association asked its supporters to contact the governor and tell him to sign the bill.

“The Buckeye Firearms Association declared this our No. 1 legislative priority for the 134th General Assembly and have been working on an almost daily basis to make permitless or ‘constitutional’ carry a reality in Ohio,” according to its website. “As of today, 21 other states have some form of permitless carry, and Ohio is poised to become No. 22.”

Asked Tuesday whether DeWine planned to sign the bill, his Press Secretary Dan Tierney reiterated similar, earlier comments from last week: “We are reviewing the bill, but I would note Governor DeWine has long supported the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

Green spoke at a virtual news conference hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety. Green, who created the FUDGE Foundation in his father’s honor, is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, the local-level affiliate of Everytown.

He was joined by Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey; state Rep. Tavia Galonski, D-Akron; and Meeka Owens, a Cincinnati city council member.

Substitute Senate Bill 215 passed the Ohio Senate 23-8 in December, then passed the House with amendments 58-36 on March 2. That same day the Senate voted 24-9 to accept the amendments, sending the bill on to DeWine. He has 10 days to sign or veto it following its passage, or the bill would become law without his signature.

Its majority vote in the Senate would be enough to override a veto, but its House margin falls two votes short of the required three-fifths mark.

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The bill, with state Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, as its lead sponsor, says anyone at least 21 years old who is otherwise legally allowed to have a gun can carry a concealed handgun without a permit, without the previously required eight hours of gun safety training, and potentially without a pre-purchase background check.

Those who already have concealed-carry permits would no longer have to carry that license with them. And if a driver is stopped by police, that person would no longer be required to tell officers that they have a concealed weapon unless they’re specifically asked about it.

Concealed carry licenses will still be available for those who want them, Johnson has said.

At Tuesday’s virtual event, Galonski said her attempt to add a “red flag” amendment to the bill — allowing guns to be temporarily taken from people judged to be an imminent danger to themselves or others — was voted down.

McGuffey said she has testified on why she believes the bill is a bad idea. Police need to be told in advance if someone is carrying a concealed weapon, but SB 215 would put the onus on officers to specifically ask, she said. There are so many things going on during a traffic stop or dealing with a crowd that police sometimes can’t do that, McGuffey said.

She’s particularly concerned that people will not get the eight hours of gun safety training now required for a concealed carry permit. Police are highly proficient with their weapons, but in stressful situations that skill drops by more than half, McGuffey said.

“I will tell you that this bill is going to bring lawlessness,” she said. “It is an absolute fantasy that somebody is going to be carrying a concealed weapon and is going to stop a crime with every base covered.”

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In 2021, McGuffey said, she suspended 93 concealed carry permits in Hamilton County in response to charges of assault, domestic violence, menacing and other crimes.

“If we don’t have a concealed carry (permit requirement), how will I do that?” she said.

Green said legislators ignored widespread opposition to the bill from law enforcement.

Following the Oregon District shooting, DeWine wrote to him, saying he would work to reduce gun violence.

“Even showed up for my father’s funeral,” Green said.

But he hasn’t heard from DeWine since, and now might sign a bill that would make things “easier for criminals and harder for police officers,” Green said.

“He should honor the promise he made to me and to the other survivors of the Dayton shooting when they asked him to do something,” he said.

Following the Oregon District shooting DeWine said he supported a list of gun-law changes including improved gun background checks, expanding 72-hour mental health holds and increasing penalties for crimes committed with firearms. But none of that legislation passed the General Assembly.

Instead legislators have passed multiple bills loosening existing gun laws, which DeWine has consistently signed. That included a “stand your ground” bill in January 2021, allowing people to use deadly force in self-defense in public places without considering first whether they could retreat from danger.

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