DeWine continues to hijack "coronavirus press conferences" to push gun control

I have a confession to make.

I have listened to every single one of Governor Mike DeWine's "coronavirus" press conferences. Every one when they were happening daily, and every one now that they're coming twice a week. Every single one.

Some might call it taking one for the team, and others might call it down-right masochism. In truth, it's a habit that began with a desire to try and read the tea leaves on potential increasing or easing regulations so that I can navigate my family business through the rough waters of this pandemic, and has continued because, well, this thing ain't over yet.

This summer, the governor began attempting to use his "show," as he has called it, to press for other issues that have nothing to do with Covid-19 whatsoever. And by far the most frequent issue he is using his coronavirus-inspired bully pulpit for is gun control - specifically his so-called STRONG Ohio legislation - a gun control bill otherwise known as Senate Bill 221.

Week after week, unsuspecting people are tuning in to his "coronavirus" press conferences, praying their small business won't be shut down again, or hoping to learn if the state will give their child permission to participate in a sport or stage play, finding instead that they fell for a bait and switch scheme.

In these press conferences, DeWine is attempting to employ several tactics to fool Ohioans into supporting his bill, many of which we've seen before, and some which are more novel:

1) Claiming it respects our Constitutional rights

Every gun control bill ever conceived has had a sponsor who claimed it still respected our Constitutional rights, and this one is no different.

This bill "will help protect our citizens while also respecting the Second Amendment and due process rights,” DeWine says.

But it won't, and it doesn't.

SB 221 weighs in at more than 200 pages, and there are issues that concern us throughout, as they do the NRA-ILA.

Here are some highlights:

  • A so-called "voluntary" background check implemented in the bill could easily become a de facto mandate.
  • The bill will nullify doctor-patient confidentiality for those with alcohol or drug issues.
  • Weapons possession penalties are on par with murder and rape.
  • Involuntary commitment results in a lifetime firearms ban.

DeWine's bill attempts to rebrand a "red flag" law as a "safety protection order," but the due process problems inherent to all "red flag" laws remain.

As for the so-called "voluntary" background check provision, Sen. Dolan admitted under testimony last November that "the goal of Senate Bill 221 is to make sure whenever a gun transfers, we know who the recipient of that gun is."

Second Amendment advocates have always had a strong aversion to having the government "know who the recipient of" a private transfer is. This is why gun owners have fought to make sure that federal law prohibits a universal, national gun registry, and why the vast majority of states (including Ohio) don’t require registration or licensing.

There are a variety of other problems with this bill, but these should concern every citizen in Ohio, whether you are a gun owner or not. The real-world effect of this bill would be to vastly expand the universe of citizens potentially subject not only to a firearms disability, but also to a deprivation of liberty and loss of fundamental rights.

2) Downplaying the size and scope of the bill

DeWine, of course, doesn't mention this long list of problems with his bill in his press conferences.

Instead, he tries to pass SB 221 off to his coronavirus audience as a "simple" bill that is "simply" designed to prevent persons who should not have guns from getting them.

Indeed, last week he said "What we’re simply saying is 'let’s model Ohio’s law after the federal laws.'"

But of course, as we have documented, the bill goes far, far beyond that, and is anything BUT simple.

3) Take advantage of emotions caused by mass shootings

DeWine decided to use the "opportunity" of a mass public shooting in Dayton in August 2019 in order to begin his push for this bill, and renewed his calls on its anniversary last summer.

While this is not a new tactic, what IS new is to admit right up front, as DeWine has, that nothing in the bill would have stopped this mass killing or others like it.

The governor tries to avoid this most glaring problem by arguing that even though it wouldn't have stopped those crimes, it might stop some crimes.

But the hope he places in new gun control laws is mysterious, given his next ploy.

4) Point to existing gun control laws' failures as reason to pass more gun control laws

One of the more interesting parts of his corona/gun control updates are days when he reads off lists of recent crimes committed with guns in Ohio, noting in many cases that the people who committed the crimes were already prohibited from owning firearms.

This too is new. In the past, when citing an act of crime as a reason why a new gun control law should be passed, gun control extremists have done their best to IGNORE the fact that the criminal had already been prohibited from using a gun, since the logical question that follows is, "if they ignored all of the existing gun control laws, why should anyone think they'll follow this one?"

DeWine just plows ahead, listing headline after headline, noting that many these crimes were committed by people who were already prohibited from owning a gun, all the while continuing to argue that more gun control is the answer.

5) Hold gun rights legislation hostage

While running for governor, DeWine assured gun owners that his days as an anti-gun politician were over. In fact, he went so far as to promise to sign Constitutional Carry and Stand Your Ground bills into law.

Last December, however, the governor stated that he would refuse to sign any Second Amendment-related legislation until his gun control bill becomes law.

DeWine is hoping to push SB221 through during the lame duck session. So with the election just a few weeks away, Buckeye Firearms Association is calling on gun owners across Ohio to send a message to their legislators.

It’s clear from this renewed push by Governor Mike DeWine that we need to remind them of the unified opposition to SB 221 / STRONG Ohio.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Related Articles:

Opposition to “STRONG Ohio” Remains Strong

DeWine's STRONG Ohio claims will fall on deaf ears among gun owners

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