Guns: Where do candidates for Ohio governor stand?

The Dayton Daily News asked the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor on the May 3 primary ballot where they stand on five major issues — including guns.

The Republican candidates are incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine, Joe Blystone, Ron Hood and Jim Renacci. The Democratic candidates are John Cranley and Nan Whaley.

Look for their answers on a different issue every day through Friday, followed on the weekend by profiles of Republican candidates. Profiles of the Democratic candidates were published April 10.

Below are their responses, edited for length and clarity.

Question: What would you do to deal with gun violence in Ohio?

Joe Blystone: “Suicides made up 54% of firearm deaths in 2020. Twenty-two a day of America’s finest, our veterans, make up some of that horrible number. If we want to talk about problems that need addressed, I’d love to start there.

“But the principles that guide my policy on gun violence are simple. No. 1, legal gun owners are not the problem. There are an estimated 400-plus million guns in the United States and 8.1 billion rounds of ammunition produced annually. If legal gun owners were the problem, we’d know it. Get trained, get comfortable, and get a gun.

“No. 2, illegal possession or use of a firearm will be met with swift and severe justice. If someone uses a gun illegally, in the commission of a crime or to harm another person, they will be arrested, tried and will pay a steep price. We will get repeat offenders off the streets and lock them up for a long time.”

John Cranley: “I will restore cuts to Ohio’s Local Government Fund to ensure that cities and villages can offer walking patrols and community-oriented policing and end the short-sighted practice of helping to balance the state budget on the backs of local governments.

“We must also take on the root causes of violence that lead to gun deaths and fuel crime: poverty and lack of job opportunities. I’m proud that in Cincinnati, we raised the minimum wage for city workers to $15 an hour, lowered poverty one and half times faster than Ohio and have the most Black-owned businesses that make $500,000 a year or more in Ohio.

“I will push for common-sense gun reforms that are supported by a majority of Ohio adults —including our police and firefighters who keep us safe. They include universal background checks and repealing Ohio’s new law allowing people to carry concealed weapons without training or a permit.

“I’ll expand my efforts to require smart technology that would authenticate a gun user’s identity and disable it if anyone else tries to fire it. It would help reduce suicides, render lost or stolen guns useless and protect law enforcement if their weapons are grabbed from them.”

Mike DeWine: DeWine did not provide an answer by the deadline for this story. The following is culled from his campaign website and public record.

“Last year, he enacted a bill that allows Ohioans to stand their ground, giving people the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones when they fear they are in danger,” his website says. “Just recently, Gov. DeWine signed into law ‘Constitutional Carry,’ which empowers law-abiding citizens to exercise their right-to-carry without having to go through government red tape and delays.”

Those new laws say a person doesn’t have a duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense, and legalize carrying a concealed handgun without a permit.

Following the August 2019 mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District, DeWine said he supported a list of gun-law changes, including improved gun background checks, expanding 72-hour mental health holds and increasing penalties for crimes committed with firearms.

But none of that legislation passed the General Assembly, and DeWine has not recently answered questions about those proposals or his position on any pending gun legislation.

Ron Hood: Hood’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. The following is posted on his campaign website:

“There are no more staunch supporters in Ohio than Ron Hood and (running mate) Candice Keller. The authors of Ohio’s Stand Your Ground Bill and constitutional carry, they have fought long and hard for your Second Amendment from the beginning.

“The Second Amendment was given to us to protect all other freedoms. We will stand strong on pro-gun laws to keep criminals out of Ohio.”

Hood’s campaign website for his unsuccessful 2021 primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives said: “I will never vote for gun control and fight against dangerous ‘red flag’ gun confiscation laws. You have a God-given right to protect yourself and your family,” according to an archived version on Ballotopedia.

Jim Renacci: “Under Mike DeWine’s leadership, Ohio has five of America’s top 50 most dangerous cities.

“When rioters and looters took to the streets demanding to ‘defund the police,’ Gov. DeWine called it ‘appropriate.’ As governor, I will take on violent crime, including gun violence, by ending the DeWine era, soft-on-crime policies, and ensuring law enforcement has the funding and other tools they need to make our streets and communities safe for all Ohioans. There was nothing ‘appropriate’ about the movement to defund, defame and demoralize those who risk their lives to keep our communities safe.

“I will also end the DeWine era mandates and economic shutdowns that only fostered desperation and further fueled criminal activity across our state. Gun violence is not the product of law-abiding citizens who own firearms — that much is without question and beyond debate. And efforts to further infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners is as counter-productive to public safety as it is deplorable. As governor I will tackle the DeWine-era violent crime spike by fully backing law enforcement, growing our economy and protecting our Second Amendment constitutional rights.”

Nan Whaley: “Everybody in our state deserves to live in a safe community and to go to bed without fear of violent crime. After our city (Dayton) went through a tragic mass shooting, this became incredibly personal to me. I stood on stage with Gov. Mike DeWine as our friends and neighbors demanded he ‘Do Something.’ Never in my worst nightmare did I imagine he’d ‘do something’ to make it worse. We have to take steps to make our communities more safe.

“It’s clear that gun safety is a big issue — from illegal guns on our streets to the rise of suicides to accidents with children. I would take steps, starting with universal background checks where there is bipartisan support, to make sure that we are making our communities more safe. I will also work to repeal dangerous laws like Stand Your Ground and permitless concealed carry.”

Complete coverage

The Dayton Daily News asked all the gubernatorial candidates about where they stood on five major issues. Here’s the schedule:

Today: Guns

Tuesday: Abortion

Wednesday: COVID-19 response

Thursday: Creating and retaining well-paying jobs

Friday: Long-term economic growth in Ohio

The Democratic nominees for U.S. Senate and Ohio governor in the May 3 primary were profiled on April 10. Next Sunday, April 17, we’ll profile the Republican candidates in those races.

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