COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich on Thursday advocated a “red flag” law for Ohio, a ban on armor-piercing ammunition and other gun policy positions he says represent political consensus in a bellwether state that could fly nationally.
The Republican governor proposed six changes he wants to see Ohio make related to guns and background checks. They include forcing stricter compliance deadlines and penalties around entering data into the national background check system; prohibiting those under domestic violence protection orders from buying or possessing firearms; and clarifying Ohio’s prohibition on so-called “strawman” third-party gun purchases.
“We want to make sure that we can bring greater safety to the state, but at the same time not frighten people who believe very strongly in their ability to practice the Second Amendment,” Kasich said at a Statehouse news conference. “But we can keep them together.”
His announcement came after an extraordinary day in Washington on Wednesday, during which Republican President Donald Trump supported quick and substantial changes to the nation’s gun laws, including some gun control positions opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association.
Kasich’s recommendations emerged from a politically diverse advisory panel the governor assembled after Las Vegas saw the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in October. He accelerated the group’s work after 17 died in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
Among Kasich’s advisers were former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, a tough-on-crime Republican, and Nina Turner, a former Democratic state senator from Cleveland who was a national mouthpiece for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. Turner, whose son is a police officer, also served on Kasich’s commission on improving police-community relations.
“It’s a unique time in the state — a unique time when there are people who have sat down together, really who have never ever sat down before,” he said, adding that he plans to keep the advisory panel together to gather additional suggestions.
Highly divisive issues — such as raising age limits of gun purchases, banning AR-15 assault-style rifles or imposing universal background checks — were absent, presumably because they continue to divide the group.
“Certainly, there are people of varying viewpoints on how, and other ways, we could make Ohio safer,” said Ohio Public Safety Director John Born, tapped by Kasich to lead the advisory group’s work. “But we think it was an extraordinarily reassuring perspective to see that we had broad agreement on these things.”
Born said, “There’s absolutely no doubt Ohio will be better and safer as a result of these proposals.”
Among consensus items was passing a “red flag” law, as five other states have already done and numerous others are considering in the wake of the Parkland massacre. Such laws enable family members, guardians or police to ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from people who show warning signs of violence through a new gun violence protective order.
Kasich also called on Ohio to move quickly to implement measures to ensure timely and accurate compliance with required records reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to keep guns out of the hands of those with criminal convictions and other prohibited conditions.
Three other recommendations — in the areas of armor-piercing bullets, “strawman” gun purchases and gun restrictions on domestic violence offenders — involve bringing Ohio laws in line with tougher federal standards.
The panel’s final suggestion is that Ohio law be changed to automatically incorporate any future changes to federal gun regulations into state law.
Julie Carr Smyth can be reached on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/jcarrsmyth.