Urged to ‘Do Something,’ Ohio Governor Backs ‘Red Flag’ Law

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Tuesday proposed a “red flag” law that would take guns away from people who may harm themselves or others, responding to pressure for him to “do something” after a mass shooting in Dayton that killed nine people.

The Republican governor said he would ask the General Assembly to pass a law that would allow judges to temporarily confiscate guns from individuals believed by police or their relatives to be a danger, and to provide them with mental health treatment.

“We have an obligation to each other,” DeWine said at a news briefing. “If someone is showing signs of trouble or problems, we must help and we must not turn away.”

DeWine spoke three days after a gunman wearing body armor and a mask opened fire early Sunday in a crowded Dayton, Ohio, neighborhood known for its nightlife. It was the second deadly U.S. mass shooting in less than a day.

The governor, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association when he was elected last year, was heckled Sunday night as he spoke at a vigil for the victims of the rampage.

FILE – People shout “Do Something!” as Ohio Governor Mike DeWine speaks during a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 4, 2019.

Protesters repeatedly chanted “Do something!” — a reference to perceived state and federal inaction to curb U.S. gun violence.

“Some chanted ‘Do something!’ and they’re absolutely right,” DeWine said Tuesday. “We must do something, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.”

Other ‘red flag’ laws 

Gun control is one of the most divisive issues in American politics. Supporters of tighter restrictions say they are necessary to staunch a U.S. epidemic of gun violence, while opponents believe more controls would violate gun ownership rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

DeWine, who took office in January, previously expressed support for “red flag” laws after a deadly Passover shooting at a California synagogue in April.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have “red flag” laws on the books, according to Giffords, a gun-control advocacy group. Most of the jurisdictions are under Democratic control.

DeWine’s proposal could meet resistance in the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate and House of Representatives.

In an address to the nation Monday, President Donald Trump also backed laws to allow guns to be taken away from dangerous individuals. He also proposed tighter monitoring of the internet, mental health reform and wider use of the death penalty in response to the two mass shootings over the weekend that left 32 people dead in Texas and Ohio.

The president and first lady Melania Trump will visit Dayton on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday.

FILE – Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to members of the media Aug. 6, 2019, outside Ned Peppers bar in the Oregon District after a mass shooting early Sunday in Dayton.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said she would welcome the president but plans to tell Trump “how unhelpful he’s been on this,” referring to Trump’s remarks on Monday about ways to curb gun violence.

“Yesterday, his comments weren’t really helpful around the issue of guns,” Whaley told reporters.

Motive unclear

Police named the Ohio gunman as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male from Bellbrook, Ohio, and said he was armed with an assault-style rifle fitted with an extended drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds.

The killings in Dayton began around 1 a.m. Sunday in the city’s Oregon District and ended rapidly when nearby police moved in and shot Betts dead. At least 14 people were wounded by gunfire, while others were injured as they fled. Six of the nine people killed were black.

The gunman shot at least 41 bullets in the seconds before he was killed, Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl told reporters Monday. Police officers ended the rampage in about 30 seconds, Biehl said Sunday.

Investigators were still trying to determine a motive, Biehl said. FBI agents were helping police.

The shooting in Dayton, a riverfront city of about 140,000 people in southwestern Ohio, took place just 13 hours after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed. The 21-year-old suspect in that shooting was arrested.

Sunday’s massacre occurred a week after a teenager killed three people with an assault rifle at a food festival in Northern California before taking his own life.

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