Governor DeWine unveils the STRONG Ohio bill
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine unveiled a series of legislative proposals to better protect Ohio citizens and law enforcement officers from those with a propensity toward violence and to provide help to individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.
The STRONG Ohio bill, which is sponsored by Senator Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and is part of Governor DeWine’s broader STRONG Ohio violence prevention plan, will preserve constitutional rights, expand treatment options, and prevent violence through:
- Safety protection orders
- Thorough background checks
- Rigorous due process
- Ongoing help to those in crisis
- New state background checks
- Greater penalties for gun crimes
“When I unveiled our overall STRONG Ohio plan in August, I committed that any legislation must be constitutional, must make a significant impact on the safety of Ohioans, and must be able to pass in the Ohio General Assembly,” said Governor DeWine. “Over the past two months, we have met with legislators, second-amendment groups, law enforcement, mayors, the behavioral health community, and many others to ensure our bill achieves these goals. We heard their concerns, and I believe that we have come up with better legislation as a result.”
Key components of the bill will:
- Create a process in Ohio law, similar to the current probate court process that directs those suffering from severe mental health conditions into court-ordered treatment, to give hospitals and courts a better ability to help those who are legally declared to be a danger to themselves or others due to drug dependency or chronic alcoholism;
- Ensure that citizens have full due process at all probate court hearings;
- Ensure that those legally declared by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others do not have access to firearms;
- Give family members of those who may be a danger to themselves or others because of drug dependency or chronic alcoholism the ability to more easily petition the probate court for court-ordered treatment;
- Mandate that law enforcement agencies and courts enter certain protection orders and arrest warrants for serious crimes into state and federal law enforcement databases to ensure more accurate background check results;
- Create a new private-sale background check process that will increase the number of background checks conducted in Ohio while also protecting the privacy of law-abiding gun owners;
- Create a legal safe harbor for firearms sellers who require private-sale background checks;
- Increase penalties for those who sell or provide a firearm to someone legally prohibited from possessing a gun;
- Give judges a range of sentences for felony cases in which a gun was either possessed, brandished, or used;
- Increase the penalty for those who are found with a gun while legally prohibited from possessing a firearm;
- Increase the penalty for selling a gun to a minor;
- Increase penalties for straw purchases and knowingly possessing a straw-purchased gun.
“Nothing we are doing places new restrictions on a law-abiding citizen from owning a gun,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “These proposals are focused on keeping guns out of the hands of people who are prevented from owning a gun by enhancing law enforcement’s ability to enforce current law.”
“I understand that this bill probably doesn’t go far enough for some and too far for others. That said, this bill needs and should pass with bi-partisan support,” said Senator Dolan. “The victims of gun violence deserve action, and a society fearful of future violence can be crippling. This bill addresses these concerns and will help make Ohio safer.”
"For too long we have looked the other way while gun violence has terrorized our communities and threatened the safety of our residents. The massacre that took place in Dayton on August 4 is a tragic reminder of this fact. However, thanks to the leadership of Governor DeWine, the STRONG Ohio plan is a step in the right direction to help get dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people and better protect our communities,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
Other important elements of Governor DeWine’s overall STRONG Ohio plan are already underway, including the development of new technology to help ensure thorough, accurate background check reports; the creation of the Ohio School Safety Center; the expansion of Ohio’s statewide school safety tip line; and work to provide wraparound services for schools and supports to parents to manage children’s lifelong wellness.