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Mixed reviews on governor’s gun proposal

We are sure Gov. Mike DeWine meant well when he introduced his new gun law proposal on the heels of the mass shooting in Dayton.

DeWine unveiled his “Strong Ohio” last month, a proposal that includes a voluntary background check for gun sales between private sellers, would increase penalties for those found with a gun while legally prohibited from having one, would increase penalties for selling guns to minors and provide judges the ability to give stronger sentences to those convicted of felonies in which a gun was possessed or used.

DeWine chose not to support a red flag law — that would allow police and relatives to have guns taken from people who pose a threat to themselves or others — even though he said he backed a version of it after the August mass shooting in Dayton. Instead, he supports expanding pink slip laws allowing those with drug and alcohol problems to be separated from their guns while being evaluated by a doctor.

The governor also proposed allowing county sheriffs to do background checks for private gun sales upon request. The check is voluntary, not required to buy or sell a private gun. Those whose background checks determine they are legally permitted to purchase a gun will get a “seller’s protection certificate” to show they aren’t prohibited from buying a gun.

Indeed the proposal contains some interesting details that we could support. Among those are ideas that DeWine describes as expanded “pink slip” laws that he called even “better than” other states’ red flag laws. His law would allow guns to be removed, perhaps temporarily, from the possession of gun owners whose mental capacities may risk them hurting themselves or others.

DeWine pledges those detained would retain various rights, including attendance at hearings and the availability of lawyers.

That seems reasonable, depending on the forum for determining those incapacities and whether the firearms ever would be returned to the owner.

DeWine says he is against mandatory background checks for all gun sales, but a condition he has proposed will put the responsibility on private gun owners who choose to sell their weapons to another private owner, should those guns later be used improperly.

While the check is voluntary, responsibility for a gun that is sold and eventually falls into the wrong hands still could fall on the original owner.

That is a concern to us.

Further, it is arguable that respectable, law-abiding citizens who own firearms already are extremely cautious about ensuring their weapons never fall into the wrong hands. When it comes to selling a gun, most would abide by the governor’s new proposal by requesting proof of background from the buyer.

But if passed, the law would still have little reach into the life of criminals who likely routinely sell guns to other criminals. That happens too often in America.

Certainly there will be debate and we’d expect the proposal to be pared down.

What we hope for are guarantees that the rights of law-abiding gun owners not be challenged, and that more restrictions are not placed on them for which criminals will work around. Let us all remember that there also is an inherent danger in curbing constitutional rights.

editorial@tribtoday.com