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Classmates Say Dayton Shooter Was Death-Obsessed, But Authorities Saw No Red Flags

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Ohio's governor, Mike DeWine, is calling for legislation that would limit access to guns and improve access to mental health care. This comes days after a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead. The next day after the massacre when the governor gave remarks honoring the victims, he was interrupted by chants urging him to do something. DeWine responded to those calls today at a press conference at the state's capitol.

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MIKE DEWINE: Some chanted, do something, and they were absolutely right. We must do something, and that is exactly what we are going to do.

MARTIN: NPR's Brakkton Booker joins me now to discuss the details of the plan. Brakkton, thanks for being here.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So what did the governor say? What exactly is in his proposal?

BOOKER: Well, it was a laundry list of items that the governor proposed just a little while ago. Now, most of them, he said, were already in the process, but he's just expediting them in the face of the tragedy that happened in Dayton. Now, some of the things he would do is strengthen gun laws to include the ability to take guns away from owners who pose a danger to themselves or to others. They're calling these...

MARTIN: You said the so-called...

BOOKER: Yeah, the red flag laws, but they are calling them safety protection orders. They seem to feel that red flag laws have a different connotation. Other proposals would limit straw purchases, and some would also strengthen the background checks for most gun purchases. They're also calling for increased penalties on gun crimes, and a number of proposals would actually increase access to mental health around the state.

MARTIN: So specifically on the gun control measures, they've got to be approved by the state legislature. How likely is that?

BOOKER: Well, that remains to be seen. It seems like both Governor DeWine and his lieutenant governor think that the safety protection orders in particular have a much better chance of passing this time around than they have in years past. They say that's because they invited the pro-gun lobby to be part of the discussions in crafting the bill. Now, it's a Republican-led legislature, so it remains to be seen how much they are going to be on board with this. But DeWine seems to think that because of the rigorous protections and due process orders that would allow people who are going to have their guns taken away - they'd be able to make their case in front of the judge - they feel like they have enough due process in these laws that they can get this passed.

MARTIN: Let's focus on the mental health component here. What are the details of the governor's plan on that?

BOOKER: Yeah. The governor directly linked his proposals to what happened in Dayton. He's saying that with all the things that are coming out from former classmates that there were certainly red flags with this young man that committed the tragedy. Let me play a clip. Here is what he said.

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DEWINE: All the facts of the Dayton tragedy are not yet known, and they will be coming out in the days and weeks ahead. But it is clear that the assailant while in high school clearly exhibited anti-social behaviors, anti-social behaviors that should have alerted anyone who knew about them that there was a problem, a serious problem with this high school student.

BOOKER: He's essentially saying if schools see this problem, they need to report it and law enforcement needs to act.

MARTIN: And there's still no idea about motive yet, though, right?

BOOKER: Nothing about motive, but the gunman did have a large arsenal on him, some 250 rounds of ammunition. He was only able to get off 41 rounds, but he inflicted so much damage in that time.

MARTIN: All right. NPR's Brakkton Booker reporting from Dayton. We appreciate it.

BOOKER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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