Ohio governor who promised gun background checks now wants them to be optional

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Gov. Mike DeWine promised to 'do something' after a deadly shooting earlier this year. Now he's reversing course.

In the hours after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, this past August that left 10 dead and 27 more injured, devastated members of the community begged Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to "do something" to address gun violence.

At the time, he said he would. But weeks after vowing to act to bring "red flag" laws and universal background checks to the state, DeWine caved to the gun lobby, announcing on Monday that he will do neither.

DeWine, who showed some moderation on gun laws during his time as a U.S. senator but ran with the National Rifle Association's endorsement last year, announced his new "STRONG Ohio" proposal at a news conference in Columbus. Unlike the 17-point plan he announced in the immediate aftermath of the Dayton tragedies, this plan omits legislation to temporarily disarm those deemed an immediate threat to themselves or others and makes background checks for private sales totally optional.

Rather than requiring that all gun sales include the same criminal background checks required at gun stores, he proposed to simply create a voluntary "seller protection certificate." Under this plan, gun buyers could obtain the certificate indicating that they'd passed a background check and "responsible" private sellers could require them to protect themselves from any legal liability.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted (R) explained the scheme. "Let me be clear: we are not proposing a universal background check for private gun sales. What we are proposing is an easy way for buyers to prove they are legally allowed to own a gun and to give private sellers peace of mind and a responsible way to sell a gun to someone who they may not know."

Rather than have a red flag law, the announced a "safety protection order" which would allow courts to disarm those already prohibited from owning guns — people adjudicated to be mentally ill or substance abusers.

"We are not proposing a red flag law, but we didn't quit on the idea that we needed a better answer. And we have that better answer," Husted claimed.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, panned DeWine's plan on Monday, saying DeWine "walked away from the central parts of his own plan."

"When Ohioans asked [DeWine] to 'do something,' they meant something meaningful," Watts noted.

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D) made a similar observation.

"When the people told the governor to do something, they didn't mean to just just anything," she said in a statement, observing that "STRONG Ohio is weak."

"It is not what Ohioans want," she added.

Published with permission of The American Independent.