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Gov. Mike DeWine's office defends his record on gun violence following deadly Texas school shooting

The governor had supported some stricter gun laws following the 2019 Dayton mass shooting, but has since signed a bill easing concealed carry restrictions.

CLEVELAND — Tuesday's tragedy in Texas has once again opened conversations on gun laws across the country, including right here in Ohio. This also comes as the state prepares to ease up on its own measures with a new law that goes into effect in just a couple of weeks.

Senate Bill 215 allows people to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. In March, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the legislation, which states those who can legally own a gun can now skip eight hours of training and a background check. The new law, which is set to go into effect on June 13, also says drivers stopped by police are also no longer required to tell officers they have a weapon, unless asked.

RELATED: Gov. Mike DeWine responds to criticism over controversial 'Constitutional Carry' law

Following the tragic shooting in Dayton that left nine people dead and more than a dozen injured in August of 2019, DeWine unveiled a proposal to follow something similar to what other states call a "red flag" law. The bill would have allowed police or family to petition courts to remove guns from people they believe could harm themselves or others, but it was later dropped from DeWine's gun plan.

Nan Whaley was the Mayor of Dayton during that shooting, and is now the Democratic nominee in this year's Ohio gubernatorial election against the Republican DeWine. The two initially pledged to work together on new gun safety measures, but Whaley has since become a vocal critic of DeWine, claiming he "lied" and instead "caved to extremists" on the issue.

Beyond just firearms, the governor has supported expanding the Ohio's "pink slip" system, which allows doctors to keep mental health patients in hospitals for up to 72 hours in cases where there are safety concerns.

3News reached out to DeWine Wednesday for comment related to addressing SB 215, school safety measures to combat mass shootings, and reducing violent crime. His office released the following statement:

"Governor DeWine has already created a significant number of initiatives address school safety and violent crime:

  • Governor DeWine established the Ohio School Safety Center in 2019 to assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats.
  • The Ohio School Safety Center actively monitors social media and websites to identify threats against schools.
  • The Ohio School Safety Center also employs regional liaisons who work directly with Ohio schools to enhance safety measures and protocols.
  • The Ohio Department of Public Safety has expanded use and promotion of the SaferOH Tip Line to encourage more reporting of school safety concerns and threats of violence. The line is 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764).
  • Ohio EMA conducts free security and vulnerability assessments.
  • Across agencies, the DeWine Administration has made school safety resources more easily available at one website through saferschools.ohio.gov.
  • The DeWine Administration has awarded School Safety Grants and campus safety grants for school safety and security upgrades.
  • Governor DeWine has allocated more than $12 Million to double NIBIN capacity in Ohio and more than $50 Million for local violent crime reduction programs.
  • Governor DeWine has invested in improving the statewide warrant system and other reporting systems to ensure that more information used in background checks get into federal background check systems.
  • Governor DeWine directed the Ohio State Highway patrol to assist local law enforcement with 'surge operations' designed to interdict gib violence and repossess stolen or illegally possessed guns.
  • The STACC (Statewide Terrorism Analysis and Crime Center) shares information, bulletins, and updates on terrorism (domestic and foreign) or other threats of violence with local law enforcement throughout the state.

"Governor DeWine is actively seeking support for passage of legislation to address repeat violent offenders through enhanced sentencing.

"From studies, including one the Governor commissioned as Attorney General, we know that the overwhelming majority of gun violence (about two-thirds) is committed by repeat violent offenders who, under current Ohio law, have no right to possess a firearm and who often use stolen firearms or otherwise illegally obtained firearms to commit these violent gun crimes.

"The changes made by Senate Bill 215, also known as the Constitutional Carry Bill, largely affects law-abiding citizens. It did not make any changes that would have provided more gun access to the repeat violent offenders described above. It also did not make any changes in areas that match the fact patterns of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, as we currently understand them.

"The changes in SB 215 also did not affect the open carrying of firearms, as SB 215 only addressed concealed carry. The changes in SB 215 also did not address rifles or long guns, as concealed carry laws generally only address handguns and rifles/long guns cannot be concealed.

"Regarding background checks, the background check system [is] only as good as information in it. Governor DeWine has devoted his efforts in this area to ensure that Ohio reporting agencies are providing the most up-to-date, accurate information into background check databases. This includes his work regarding warrants, protection orders, computer systems, and NIBIN.

"Under current state and federal laws, background checks are conducted for sales at federally-licensed firearms dealers. The types of firearms sales that are not covered by current federal law generally fall in two categories: gun show sales and peer-to-peer sales/transfers. Our understanding of the facts being reported in Uvalde are that the suspect passed a federal background check in purchasing his rifles. Our general understanding of mass shootings is that most of these incidents do not involve gun show sales or peer-to-peer sales. There are documented cases where the mass-shooting firearm acquisition was a parent-to-child gift or a child using a firearm owned by a parent; in these situations, a background check almost always had occurred during the initial firearm sale.

"In researching how we can reduce violent gun crime, the DeWine Administration learned there are many laws on the books which prohibit the mentally ill and those likely to commit violent crimes from possessing firearms. Governor DeWine has focused his efforts on better enforcement and enhancement of these existing laws. Full enforcement of the laws on the books makes a significant difference in combatting violent gun crimes."

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