By ANDY CHOW
For seven years, Ohio lawmakers have been cutting down on gun regulation. But while there are 22 gun-related bills pending in the legislature right now, lawmakers have recently pumped the brakes on passing the most controversial ones. Gov. John Kasich has recently turned around on gun control measures, proposing a package of six bills he calls “reasonable”. That has gun rights supporters voicing their frustration.
One by one gun owners filed into a barricaded section of the Statehouse plaza…with their weapons in tow. Some were carrying semi-automatic firearms while others had their handguns holstered at their sides.
The rally was billed as a protest against what they call the anti-gun movement. And most protesters pointed the blame squarely at Gov. John Kasich for his recent change of heart when it comes to gun regulation.
Erik Grant of Beavercreek has seen the escalating debate about gun control and wanted to make sure he took a stand.
“It’s easy to say that I support something but from the comfort of your couch so I decided to show up and show my support,” said Grant.
Grant says this large demonstration can show the public exactly how responsible gun ownership can work, especially for those who call for more regulation in the wake of mass shootings.
“I can see both sides of the story but it’s not the law abiding gun owner, it’s not the responsible gun owner that’s committing the crimes, it’s the criminals,” Grant said.
David Coots of Middletown agrees. He’s with the constitutional militia group known as United Sheepdogs of Ohio. Coots says more gun regulation erodes their constitutional right and he rebukes Kasich’s so-called “common sense” proposals.
“I think that he’s making a mistake, I think that he’s attacking the second amendment because there’s already common sense gun laws in place criminals don’t abide by the law they don’t care, they’re going to find a way,” Coots said.
Another vocal critic of Kasich at the rally was his own Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor.
“When John Kasich proposed his new gun control measures last week I immediately spoke out against them,” said Taylor.
Taylor, who’s locked in a tough Republican gubernatorial primary with Attorney General Mike DeWine, has been trying to garner the support of pro-gun voters and distance herself from her former running mate.
“When tragic shootings occur in this country like we saw recently in Florida establishment politicians immediately take this knee jerk reaction and start to restrict our gun rights,” Taylor said.
Taylor even signed a pledge in front of the crowd to uphold some of their top policy issues – such as signing the so-called Stand Your Ground bill which makes it easier for someone to use lethal force in self-defense, instead of needing to retreat first. This is a bill Kasich has said he’d veto.
The group at the Statehouse wanted to make sure that they used this as an opportunity to clear up the biggest misconceptions they believe the public has on gun ownership.
As Grant explained, “What aggravates most gun owners they see the emotional response and they see the people blaming the NRA or they say that all gun owners are terrorists all gun owners are murderers obviously that’s not true.”
Coots says the public and members of the media are not understanding the value of arming teachers.
“If you use armed teachers in conjunction with armed guards in the hallways our children will be safe we protect our money with guns, our politicians with guns, celebrities are protected by guns and our most precious commodities we make gun-free zones,” said Coots.
Kasich proposed what’s known as the “red flag” law which allows the court to confiscate firearms from people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. Other proposals include a ban on bump stocks and keeping guns away from domestic violence offenders.
So far these proposals have not been drafted into new legislation, although some are already sitting in the Legislature as standalone bills from Democrats.