COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It has been nearly three months since the Senate Government Oversight and Reform committee held a hearing for Governor Mike DeWine’s STRONG Ohio plan, in the meantime other pro-gun legislation is being worked on.
The plan released in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Dayton in August 2019, is a comprehensive look at curbing gun violence in Ohio. It is compiled of several things the Governor was planning to address anyway but the tragedy provided the catalyst to put it in front of lawmakers in an expedited fashion.
DeWine announced his plan in the days following the shooting, it took a month before details were fully rolled out, and another two months before hearings were held. The bill has been given three hearings in the Senate, the sponsor has addressed the committee and two opportunities for supporters have been provided.
No opportunity for opponents to testify against the bill has been given. State Senator and chairman of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee William Coley II (Liberty Township-R) says he is working behind the scenes with opponents, trying to find common ground. When asked why not give them an opportunity to express their opposition openly, he said he didn’t want people to cement their feet in that opposition.
He made no commitment to providing another hearing on the bill. In another part of the Statehouse Governor DeWine was receiving an award for his work in preserving history. Afterward, I asked him how he felt about the lull in hearings for the bill. DeWine reiterated all of the reasons he put the bill forward in the first place, and once again claimed not only will it save lives but it has the support of mayors and police chiefs all over Ohio.
DeWine’s bill has been criticized for not going far enough, and for going too far by groups on both sides of the debate over gun legislation. He has always maintained that one of the requirements for him to introduce his bill is that he must believe it can pass the Republican-controlled legislature. DeWine maintains his belief that it will, saying, “I think this bill’s gonna move, and this is important. We’re gonna save lives with this bill.”
During the nearly three months of silence on the STRONG Ohio plan, several pro-gun legislation bills have been worked on. Tuesday, two of them were given hearings in the Ohio House of Representatives; one a Stand Your Ground bill, the other a bill that would change how and when people carrying a concealed weapon would have to inform police of that fact. A companion bill to the Stand Your Ground bill going through the House has also received hearings in the Senate in recent months.