Oregon District Shooting, One Year Later: DeWine, Lehner Still Want Gun Reforms

COLUMBUS — News Center 7 will have a special report Monday and Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m.

Nearly one year after the August 4, 2019 Oregon District shooting, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine still vividly remembers walking through the streets of the Oregon District on the morning after the mass shooting that took the lives of nine innocent people. The blood. The shell casings. The crime tape. DeWine has seen it all multiple times when he served decades ago as Greene County Prosecutor but not on this scale with so many victims. “As a prosecutor I have been to many crime scenes but this was nothing like I had ever seen before,” DeWine said in a one-on-one interview with News Center 7 by Skype.

DeWine recounted how he felt compelled to be there the night after the shooting for a community rally. While he was on stage the governor began to hear the crowd chant “Do something.” It inspired him to craft a plan to respond to the tragedy in hopes that another mass shooting could be prevented in the future. Most state lawmakers were cool to DeWine’s proposals.

Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, also put together her own plan that included gun reform. The State Senate though was not interested. “I feel like I let the community down. I’m still committed to pass some reasonable, sound gun legislation but nothing has happened in a year,” Lehner said. Rather than add new restrictions on gun purchases, the General Assembly was more interested in working on plans to make it easier for people to carry weapons in public and reduce the training required to obtain a concealed carry permit.

With the chants from people of “Do something” still on his mind, DeWine hasn’t given up. He is about to launch a program that creates a new statewide database to keep track of people who should not be allowed to buy a gun legally because they have been convicted of a felony. “We’ve got a pilot project that’s going to include Montgomery county and it’s going to make it so the police can enter that person’s name into their own database, the national database and the state database. We are going to extend that to ten counties as a pilot project and see how that works and then take it statewide,” DeWine said.

Some other states, including Indiana, have so-called “Red Flag” laws that allow authorities to temporarily remove the guns of a person who is declared by a judge to be a threat to themselves or the public. DeWine sought a “Protective Order Law” that worked like a red flag law, but went further because it also provided mental health treatment for the person. DeWine said he would make the announcement of his new project soon. It does not require legislative approval. As for the other proposals that would require the General Assembly to approve them, DeWine says he intends to discuss his plans with the new Speaker of the Ohio House, Bob Cupp and the Senate President, Larry Obhof.

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