DeWine plans to strengthen Ohio gun laws

The following article was originally published by The Lima News. Republished with permission.

By Greg Sowinski

LIMA - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday he will announce a plan later this month to strengthen Ohio's gun laws targeting the criminals who are the real problem behind gun violence that affects cities such as Lima.

"We have done a lot of research and what we have found is there is a very small number of people in the state, as far as a percentage, who are causing most of the homicides and most of this violence," DeWine said.

DeWine said he was not ready to release details of the proposed legislation but the essence of it is that it will create tougher penalties for people who use guns in crime.

"It will make a very tough penalty for anyone who has been convicted of a number of different crimes and is carrying a gun," he said.

Under Ohio law today, using a gun in a crime earns an automatic three years, if convicted. Using the gun in a robbery, for example, could get a person up to 13 years in prison. DeWine said he did not have details to release on how much more time a criminal could receive but said it would be significant.

"If you're a convicted felon, you're not allowed to have a gun in the state of Ohio. We're going to put some real teeth into that and really go after these individuals," he said. "We're going to put them away."

The attorney general said it will have no effect on law-abiding citizens who carry guns, such as those licensed to carry a concealed handgun.

DeWine said he has been supportive of expanding concealed carry, including reciprocity with other states. He mentioned the deadly shooting at a California university on Monday and does not oppose concealed carry on campus or arming staff in public schools to protect the children, particularly after the deadly school shooting earlier this year in Chardon, near Cleveland.

"It's up to the legislature. It's certainly something that needs to be looked at," DeWine said.

DeWine and members of his staff also met with local police leaders during his stop at Veterans Memorial Civic Center to give them a brief update on initiatives his office is taking.

He said he wanted to let police leaders know the services of the Attorney General's Office was there for local agencies and prosecutors to use. He wanted to hear ideas from local police leaders.

"The important thing is we get feedback. They are our customers and we are here to serve them. The only way we can learn how to serve them is to listen," he said.

The attorney general said his agency is working hard to improve services such as DNA analysis. When he took office 15 months ago, the turnaround time was 125 days from the time evidence enters the door to the time a report with the findings is sent to an agency.

While there's been a 28 percent increase in DNA cases submitted in the past year DeWine said the turnaround time is down to 85 days, which he still finds unacceptable. He wants to get that down below 30 days and expects a serious dent to be made this summer after a new group of scientists, who are in training now, are brought on, he said.

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