Ohio AAP Ready to Push for Reforms Called on by the Governor

Following the mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District that left 10 people dead including the shooter, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine unveiled a list of legislative and administrative action items to address gun violence. At a press conference yesterday, DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Husted, who are both from the Dayton region, DeWine at times held back tears as he discussed the need for the state to take action. DeWine’s proposals go beyond the scope of the Dayton shooting to address gun violence in various forms as well as underlying causes of violence, including mental health issues.

Specifically, DeWine made the following policy recommendations; many of these will require passage and enactment by the General Assembly—

  • Safety Protection Orders: Similar to ‘red flag’ proposals, this would allow a family member or law enforcement to petition a court to seize an individual’s firearms if they are at imminent risk of harming themselves or others. Governor Kasich proposed a similar law last year, but it failed to past the legislature. President Trump and pro-second amendment advocates have signaled support for these laws in recent weeks;
  • Increased Penalties for Firearm Offenses: DeWine also called for the General Assembly to increase penalties for firearm-related offenses including possessing or brandishing a firearm during commission of a felony, illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and strawman purchases of firearms for felons or individuals otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm;
  • Increased Access to Psychiatric Hospitals: DeWine said the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will be crafting a plan to improve access to state psychiatric hospitals for violent offenders. He noted that the majority of patients currently in a state psychiatric hospital are non-violent offenders who are there under a court order; part of the ODMHAS plan will include a community-oriented plan for non-violent offenders;
  • Expanded State Interventions and Resources: DeWine also indicated that the Ohio Department of Public Safety plans to expand resources for its school safety tip line, improved tracking of social media activity by ODPS law enforcement and intelligence staff, and education and utilization of the Safety Assessment and Intervention Program developed bySandy Hook Promise. ODMHAS will also be developing a new awareness program to educate parents and schools about the warning signs of mental health;
  • Expanded Background Checks: Finally, DeWine called on the General Assembly to pass legislation that would require background checks for nearly all firearm transfers.

DeWine also highlighted several provisions in HB 166 (State Operating Budget) that will direct resources to address behavioral health and related issues, including: $675 million in funding for wraparound services (including behavioral health services) in schools, additional funding for Ohio Medicaid to cover behavioral health services delivered through telehealth, and new funding for security and safety at ‘soft targets’ (i.e. public spaces, schools, religious institutions).

DeWine’s proposals do not touch on the weapons used by the Dayton shooter and other mass shooters, though he did comment during Q&A with the media that he believes the federal government should address access to assault rifles, expanded magazines, and other weapon-related issues. Ohio AAP stands with him on his proposal but would have liked to see him address semi-automatic weapons and large magazines, which were used in the Dayton massacre. The General Assembly is expected to return next month and its unclear how much traction these proposals will receive.

Ohio Channel: Governor DeWine Press Conference Discussing Dayton Shooting Response (August 6th, 2019)

Columbus Dispatch: DeWine Calls for Background Checks on Gun Sales, Red Flag Law After Dayton Shooting

Ohio AAP extends our sincerest condolences to those who were killed and injured in the #ElPasoShooting and #DaytonShooting as two other communities are impacted by gun violence.

Visit ‘Talking to Children About Tragedies & Other News Events‘ to find resources on how to talk to children about what they may see or hear in the news.

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