COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine took time Friday morning to discuss gun violence and school safety, after a deadly shooting at a Texas elementary school shocked the nation.
The meeting — held after the governor and his wife laid wreaths at 10:30 a.m. for veterans before Memorial Day Weekend — took place as a change to Ohio’s gun laws loomed in June. The new “constitutional carry” law makes it legal for all Ohioans 21 and older to carry a handgun without a permit.
Some talking points DeWine brought up included establishing regional school liaisons, which are focused on ensuring Ohio school buildings meet standards for school safety. The governor also brought up a state tip line for schools: 844-723-3764. While some schools have tip lines of their own, DeWine said this statewide number could be used for anyone to report a potential problem at Ohio schools.
DeWine said he has also asked the Ohio General Assembly to pass three bills. One, he said, would enable local law enforcement to target repeat violent offenders in possession of a firearm. It would significantly increase the potential penalties for those offenders found illegally in possession of guns.
The second bill would implement “adequate, scenario-based training” for schools to arm their staff, if they want to. Third, DeWine asked the General Assembly to pass a law requiring outstanding warrants — for Ohio criminals who commit a specified set of serious crimes — to be entered into the National Crime Information Center database.
The measures, while less focused on restricting firearms in the state, had a better chance of passing in the conservative-controlled legislature, according to the governor.
“Look, my job is to get as much done as I can that will actually get done,” DeWine said. “I can get up and give speeches every day about certain things, but if there’s no chance they’re going to happen, I’m wasting everybody’s time.”
The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead. The shooter, Salvador Ramos, crashed a truck into a ditch outside the school and walked inside with an AR-15. Police said Ramos “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom.” A tactical team later forced its way into the room, met with gunfire from Ramos, but shot and killed him.
DeWine previously signed other legislation related to firearms, such as a “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law that took effect on April 6, 2021. The law allows Ohioans to use force in self-defense without trying to leave the situation. DeWine also previously introduced a 17-point plan to reduce gun violence, called the STRONG Ohio Bill, after a mass shooting in Dayton. That legislation included expanding background checks, early intervention and increased penalties for people who shouldn’t have guns, but the bill expired without any action by state lawmakers last year.