Governor DeWine talks with Dayton Police Chief Biehl and Assistant Police Chief Henderson before they received accommodation during the Ohio Senate meeting on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO / SARAH FRANKS
Photo: SARAH FRANKS
Photo: SARAH FRANKS

Ohio Senate honors Dayton Police who stopped Oregon District shooter

Gov. DeWine says he’s building coalition to support gun legislation

“Ultimately it’s what goes on inside this room, ultimately it’s the members here who vote on it so they’re the ones who have to be convinced,” DeWine said while visiting the Ohio Senate to present a commendation to Dayton police officers.

Just days after the Aug. 4 mass shooting in the Oregon District, DeWine responded to calls to “Do Something” by presenting a 17-point plan to address gun violence.

The Republican governor said he wants to expand and improve background checks for gun purchases and create a legal means to remove guns from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others — often called a red flag or emergency protection order law. Detailed legislative language has yet to be unveiled.

“It’s coming soon. We want to keep it together as a package and we’re still working some of the parts,” DeWine said of his 17-point plan to address gun violence.

Lawmakers this week held hearings on several gun control bills but it is expected that DeWine’s legislation will have the best chance of passing. The bills are expected to start in the Senate.

Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said “I think that the governor and lieutenant governor and the people they’re working with have worked very hard to try to come up with solutions that are respectful of gun owners’ rights.”

Gun rights groups generally oppose expanded background checks and red flag laws as ineffective and unconstitutional. Ohio Gun Owners rallied against DeWine’s plan on Saturday at the Statehouse.

Senate honors Dayton Police

Obhof, DeWine and state Sens. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, and Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, on Wednesday honored the Dayton police officers who responded to the mass shooting in the Oregon District. Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl and Assistant Chief Eric Henderson accepted the honor.

RELATED: Ohio Senate starts debate on proposed gun laws

Nine people were killed and 27 more were injured during the shooting that occurred just after 1 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4. The six Dayton officers engaged and killed the shooter in less than 30 seconds, preventing what could have been many more deaths, officials said.

The six officers are:

* Sgt. William C. Knight, sworn in Feb. 14, 1997

* Officer Brian Rolfes, sworn in April 8, 2016

* Officer Jeremy Campbell, sworn in Aug. 5, 2016

* Officer Vincent Carter, sworn in April 8, 2016

* Officer Ryan Nabel, sworn in April 8, 2016

* Officer David Denlinger, sworn in April 8, 2016

Biehl gave credit to the entire department, the Dayton Fire Department and regional first responders who assisted.

The Senate also held a moment of silence for victims of the Dayton shooting.

The nine victims included Lois Oglesby, 27, Megan Betts, 22, Nicholas Cummer, 25, Thomas McNichols, 25, Monica Brickhouse, 39, Derek Fudge, 57, Logan Turner, 30, Saeed Saleh, 38 and Beatrice Warren Curtis, 36.

Sen. Lehner is the Republican leading the charge for gun changes in the Senate.

“I can no longer stand on the sidelines of gun safety. I’ve been there too long,” Lehner said during a committee meeting on Tuesday where senators were holding hearings on several gun-related bills including expanding background checks and red-flag laws.

Huffman says he supports DeWine’s plan to address gun violence.

Gun control rally at Statehouse

Meanwhile on Wednesday, faith and community leaders rallied at the Statehouse in favor of gun control. Carrying signs that said “Do Something Now” and “Protect Children, Not Guns,” participants said they want to see Ohio lawmakers expand background checks, pass a red flag law and ban assault weapons and address police brutality.

“I’m here, and everywhere I can be, to speak on police brutality and any kind of gun violence. My son Jemarco was killed in 2017 in Dayton by the police while he slept in his car. I had a son in 2013 that was killed in street violence by guns. Enough is enough. That’s why I’m here,” Sabrina Jordan, Founder of Ohio Families United Against Police Brutality. Jemarco McShann, 23, was killed by Moraine police officers in October 2017.

Monte Stevens, pastor at North Riverdale Lutheran Church in Dayton, said he wants to urge state lawmakers to back DeWine’s plan. “I think there is a little bit of hope in the air. We want to get behind that and boost that hope,” he said.

Brien Stevens, a retired psychiatrist and military veteran who lives in Dayton, said “I understand guns and they have their place. So do responsible laws and behavior. It’s not just the mentally ill who are part of the issue. It’s a lot of people who have a lot of different reasons for behaving the way they are.”

Stevens said he was discouraged when little changed after 20 children and six adults were massacred in Sandy Hook Elementary School. “For some reason the El Paso and Dayton shootings seemed to have sparked a tone that others haven’t. So, I’m hopeful that sooner or later we can have responsible gun laws and safety-oriented policies.”

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