AKRON, Ohio– A serious battle over gun rights and regulation is brewing in Ohio, placing Governor Mike DeWine, Second Amendment rights groups. and state lawmakers at odds with one another.
Since nine people died in the Dayton mass shooting a week ago, Governor DeWine has proposed what many call “red flag laws.”
His proposal would tighten background checks, and make it legal for the state to take guns away, at least temporarily, from any person who is legally deemed in a court of law to be a threat to him or herself or others.
On FOX News Sunday, the governor said he drafted his proposal in consultation with Second Amendment rights “friends.”
But Ohioans for Concealed Carry, one of the largest Second Amendment rights groups in the state, told FOX 8 News he never consulted with them and they strongly oppose the governor.
“We are not participants in the design of this proposal and we currently do not support it,” said Philip Mulivor.
“When you have the governor of a state grossly misrepresenting the position of the Second Amendment rights groups in the state, most of whom worked very hard to help him become elected, it’s a little bit shocking what he’s doing; he’s out there saying something that is blatantly untrue,” he added.
What Ohioans for Concealed Carry does support are laws that are currently making it through the Ohio legislature that would do the exact opposite — taking away some of the current firearms regulations that are already on the books in Ohio.
House Bill 174 and House Bill 178 would allow anyone over the age of 21 who is legally allowed to own a gun to conceal carry a firearm without a permit.
The proposed legislation would also strip away the need for a background check and eliminate the requirement to announce to a law enforcement officer that you are carrying a concealed weapon when you are approached.
The laws are what has been commonly called “Constitutional Carry.”
The bill is strongly opposed by police agencies across the state.
Akron City Council unanimously passed a resolution in April opposing it as proposed by Mayor Daniel Horrigan.
“It’s not really police friendly. It’s not really community friendly, you know. It’s not a Second Amendment issue and my question is always when does the Second Amendment become more important than the First or the 19th or anything like that? They are equally important,” said Horrigan in an April 1 council meeting where the objection was passed.
“I don’t think we can enact laws based on how friendly they are to any particular special interest group. I think we have to reference all our laws to the United States Constitution and that is exactly what Constitutional Carry is designed to do,” Mulivor countered during an interview with FOX 8 News on Monday.
But even as the republican governor is coming under fire from gun rights advocates, his republican counterparts in the state legislature could easily still pass the house bills stripping away gun regulations.
“Yes, if it divides itself along party lines it is very likely to pass but, again, we don’t work for political parties; we work for our constituents and the people of the state of Ohio and our promise to them is that we work for them not for our party bosses or special interest, and so I’m hopeful that the majority leadership will decide to work on behalf of the people rather than party or special interest groups,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, (D-Akron).
Sykes is opposed to the two pieces of legislation.
“My thoughts are simply this: We have a responsibility to protect the citizens in the state of Ohio and we also have a responsibility to make sure we are upholding the United States Constitution and while there is a right to bear arms every single right has some responsibility including the rights that are afforded in the Second Amendment,” she told FOX 8 News on Monday.
Ohioans for Concealed Carry, however, argue that in the sixteen states where Constitutional Carry has already passed, it hasn’t resulted in any additional problems.
“It’s proven itself to be a safe program with almost zero problems and at the same time there’s mounting evidence for how legally-armed citizens have been able to protect themselves under Constitutional Carry,” said Mulivor.
Visiting with FOX 8 on Monday, Ohio Attorney General David Yost declined comment on the proposed laws, saying it was his job simply to enforce what lawmakers pass.
“There are a lot of things to come through the legislature where there is likely to be a legal challenge to it so I, being the one that has to defend the law, I think I’m going to decline taking any positions on it,” said Yost.
It is possible that one or both of the house bills could come up for a vote before the end of the year.