COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine entered the Harding briefing room shortly after 9:00 a.m. flanked by his wife, Fran, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.
As he stepped to the podium, the room waited in silence as he gathered himself.
That silence was shattered by the screaming of a woman from outside the room echoing a chant heard Sunday night in Dayton, Ohio.
“Do something,” she screamed as the governor was looking down at the podium preparing to speak.
The governor smiled, looked up and proceeded to explain exactly what he was going to do.
DeWine laid out at least 17 proposals, or “action items” as he started to call some of them.
Many of those items dealt with increasing penalties for felons who possess a gun illegally, or use a gun in the commission of a crime, or for when a gun is used in the commission of a felony in general, or for when someone makes a strawman purchase for someone else, or for when an adult sells a gun to a minor, to name a few.
Other items dealt with getting people help when they are suffering from mental illness.
Much of these proposals will use money that has already been planned for and approved by the state legislature in the recently signed state budget.
Some of those programs directly deal with schools and students, while at least one of the proposals asked state lawmakers to do something about state psychiatric hospitals and how they are used by courts.
Currently, a large portion of patients in the state psychiatric hospitals are there until they can be found competent to stand trial for a crime. DeWine said there are better places for those individuals to go through that process, which could open space for people who need treatment.
Finally, DeWine announced a “red flag” style proposal similar to what his predecessor put forward.
During the last General Assembly, former Gov. John Kasich’s proposal died as a result of an unwillingness for the Republican-led legislature to move the bill.
Republicans cited concerns over due process rights as a major sticking point.
Tuesday, DeWine announced he sought out pro-Second Amendment advocates in structuring his proposal with due process specifically in mind.
Kasich formed a coalition from both sides of the argument and reached a compromise for his bill.
One big difference between the two proposals is the due process portions. Where Kasich’s proposal secured the guns when notification was given to someone that they were a threat to themselves or others, DeWine’s proposal does not.
Instead, DeWine’s proposal has the person notified of a court hearing which must be held within three days, at which time a judge could order the guns secured.
DeWine’s proposal also calls for a second hearing within 14 days to determine if the order needs to be extended.
Some, like Chris Dorr, the executive director of Ohio Gun Owners, a grassroots pro-gun rights group, calls DeWine’s proposal Red Flag Light and said gun owners will not be fooled by DeWine’s attempts.
Two other pro-gun rights groups were invited to the press conference by the administration, Buckeye Firearms Association and Ohioans for Concealed Carry.
Governor DeWine’s proposals include:
- Safety Protection Orders. Governor DeWine is asking the legislature to pass a law to allow courts to issue Safety Protection Orders which would remove firearms from potentially dangerous individuals and get them the mental health treatment they need all while maintaining an individual’s right to due process.
- Increased Access to Inpatient Psychiatric Care. Over the past several years, Ohio’s state psychiatric hospitals have become predominantly used by patients who are court-ordered there for restoration to competency to stand trial. This week 79% of the adults in our state psychiatric hospitals are under court order. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is working to create a process where courts and community-based providers can work together to restore competency for those to stand trial in an outpatient setting which will free more hospital beds and decrease wait time for admission. The Ohio General Assembly will need to pass legislation to create this community-based misdemeanor competency restoration process.
- Early Intervention. As part of the 2019-2020 biennium operating budget, the state is investing $675 million in wrap-around services for schools to design individualized programs, working with local mental health providers or social service organizations, to address the social and emotional challenges our students face.
- Access to Behavioral Health Services. The Ohio Department of Medicaid is investing $15 million in telehealth mental health services to students, so no matter where a child lives, they have access to high-quality mental health care.
- Risk Factor and Resource Identification. OhioMHAS will be working with communities to increase knowledge of risk factors, help parents identify when their child is showing warning signs of a mental illness. The department will share screening tools with clinicians and help connect community-based services to link parents, families, and schools with proven supports and strategies to manage a child’s wellness over the child’s lifetime.
- Background Checks. Governor DeWine is calling on the Ohio General Assembly to pass a law requiring background checks for all firearms sales in the state of Ohio with certain limited, reasonable exceptions, including gifts between family members.
- Increased Penalties for Felons Who Illegally Possess Firearms. Gun violence occurs in neighborhoods and communities every day across Ohio and the nation. Law enforcement reports that the majority of this violence is perpetrated by a relatively small number of individuals who don’t have the right to possess a gun. Governor DeWine is calling on the General Assembly to increase penalties on felons who illegally possess or use guns.
- Increased Penalties for Violent Felons Who Illegally Possess Firearms. Governor DeWine is calling on the General Assembly to increase penalties violent felons and other people found with a gun they do not have the legal right to possess. The crime of having a weapon while under a disability is currently a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of three years in prison. On a first offense, the crime should be a second-degree felony punishable by two-to eight-years in prison, and for subsequent offenses, it should be a first-degree felony punishable by three- to eleven-years incarceration.
- Increased Penalties for People Who Commit Felonies while in Possessing Firearms. This proposal would increase penalties for people who commit felonies with a firearm or who possess a firearm while committing a felony to a mandatory additional one- to three-year sentence.
- Increased Penalties for Brandishing a Gun. The General Assembly should pass a law that increases the penalty for those who commit a felony while brandishing a firearm to a mandatory three- to five-year sentence.
- Increased Penalties for Straw Purchases. So-called “straw” purchases, the act of purchasing guns for or giving guns to another individual are currently illegal under Ohio and federal law. However, this practice is far too common, so Governor DeWine is calling on the General Assembly to increase the penalty for a straw purchase to a second-degree felony punishable by two to eight years in prison.
- Increased Penalties for Illegally Obtained Guns. We should increase the penalty for a person who possesses a firearm that they know was obtained through an illegal or fraudulent purchase in order to avoid a federal background check. A person who possesses the gun should be punished in the same manner as a person who bought the firearm, increasing the penalty to a second-degree felony punishable by two- to- eight years in prison.
- Increased Penalties for Those Who Improperly Provide Firearms to Minors. Too many kids are carrying guns on the streets often with tragic consequences. Adults who furnish firearms to minors must be held accountable. Governor DeWine proposes that the General Assembly increase the penalty for improperly providing a firearm to a minor to and a third-degree felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
- School Tip Line. The DeWine administration is expanding the state’s school safety tip line, where kids and adults can call or text anonymously to 844-723-3764 with tips about potential school violence.
- Social Media Monitoring. In a 24-7 world of social media, threats can arise at any time. The Hub at the Ohio Department of Public Safety is expanding their ability to monitor and track potential threats on social media and will share that information with local school and local law enforcement.
- Community Safety. The operating budget provides nearly $9 million to help harden soft targets like non-profits and religious organizations to make their facilities more secure.
- School Safety and Intervention Programs. Working closely with Sandy Hook Promise, Ohio’s schools are implementing their “Know the Signs” safety program across the state. This program equips school staff with knowledge and skills to identify potential threats of violent action and take steps to intervene. There are 23 training dates already scheduled.