DeWine ‘Red Flag’ Gun Law Proposal Draws Ire From Some Pro-Gun Groups

Mike DeWine
Mike DeWine / Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he is considering "red flag" gun legislation in the wake of mass shootings that target places of worship.

Some pro-gun groups have expressed opposition to the potential legislation, while others say the governor misspoke when he classified the future proposal as a red flag law.

Red flag laws allow the state to temporarily seize firearms from someone who could be a danger to themselves or others even though there is no proof of a crime or intent to commit a crime. A judge determines whether the threshold is met.

Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for DeWine, said in a phone interview that any legislation proposed by the governor to take guns away from someone would require "robust due process" before seizure. A person would have to be an urgent threat to himself or others to temporarily lose his firearms, he said.

Because the bill has not yet been drafted, Tierney said he does not know what the due process would look like. Some gun groups, he said, would not even consider this a red flag law because of the due process provisions.

According to Tierney, DeWine is angry and disgusted with recent attacks against places of worship in the U.S. and around the world and that people should not be afraid to worship. But the governor also believes in defending the Second Amendment, he said.

Jordan Stein, director of communications for Gun Owners of America, said in an email that red flag laws are harmful to a citizens' rights.

"So-called ‘red flag' laws, properly known as Gun Confiscation Orders, not only threaten one's right to due process and the Second Amendment, but also one's Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights," Stein said.

Stein argued that red flag legislation does not produce its intended outcomes. He cited a study by pro-gun John Lott that found no demonstrable impact on mass shootings, murder, suicide or crime from red flag laws, but that the laws might increase rape by disarming vulnerable women. Stein said that eliminating gun-free zones and passing Constitutional Carry laws would be the best way to prevent mass shootings.

Chris Dorr, director of Ohio Gun Owners, also expressed disapproval of DeWine's comments.

"This is a vicious attack against due process and gun owners in general because it allows liberal judges to confiscate firearms with no charge, no trial and no conviction of the recipient of the red flag order," Dorr said. "Red Flag gun confiscation bills won't stop a single killer bent on committing violent crime, because the potential killer is never removed from the situation."

Dorr said that every state already has laws that allow police to arrest and charge someone who is a threat or making terroristic threats. To prevent mass shootings, Dorr said, lawmakers should expand on constitutional carry laws, stand your ground laws and eliminate gun-free zones.

The Buckeye Firearms Association approached the issue differently and informed its members that the governor misspoke when he used the term "red flag," suggesting that this legislation would be different than other states, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The association wrote in a news release that it would work with the governor to find an alternative to red flag legislation, but that it would oppose a red flag law that violates due process rights.

Former Gov. John Kasich proposed a red flag law that failed to pass the General Assembly. Tierney said that DeWine would not propose anything that wouldn't have support from the General Assembly.