Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine paused his Thursday news conference on COVID-19 prevention measures to discuss a rash of gun violence that swept his state over the weekend — most significantly in Cincinnati, where a series of shootings killed or injured a total of at least 19 people in a 24-hour period.
“Enough is enough,” DeWine said.
Across the state, according to his office’s newsgathering, 56 people were shot between Friday and Thursday. Seventeen of them died. The youngest, Mikayla Pickett, was eight years old and attending an older child’s birthday party.
“She and her family are robbed of all the incredible joys life has to offer,” DeWine said. “Just absolutely unbelievable. Why? Someone angry? Someone was looking to settle a score with someone at the party? We don’t know. Just a horrible, horrible tragedy.”
Although few suspects have been identified, DeWine said past conversations with law enforcement lead him to a few probable assumptions about these incidents: That they were committed with handguns, that some of the assailants were repeat offenders and that some of them were carrying their guns illegally.
He encouraged Ohio lawmakers to once again take up a piece of legislation that would reform the state’s gun laws. Although he did not mention the bill by name, DeWine was likely referring to the Strong Ohio bill he proposed in October 2019, shortly after a mass shooting in downtown Dayton.
If passed, the Strong Ohio bill would increase penalties for a range of gun-related offenses, including:
- Selling a gun to a minor
- Selling or otherwise providing a gun to someone who cannot legally own it.
- Being caught with a firearm that the possessor is not legally allowed to have
- Making a “straw purchase” — that is, buying a gun with the intention of immediately passing it on to someone else — or knowingly possessing a straw-purchased gun
“This is something that I don’t think is controversial,” he said. “These are people who are not allowed to have a gun. I think there’s a general consensus in society that those individuals that are not allowed to have a gun and that are repeat violent offenders need to be removed from society.”