COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. John Kasich has grown increasingly frustrated as he's watched shootings in Las Vegas and Florida — and closer to home in Cincinnati and his city of Westerville — fail to move state lawmakers around the country to tighten state gun laws.
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, center, joins law enforcement official at the signing of two executive orders Monday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio, that he says will improve gun safety. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)
That includes in Ohio, where his fellow Republicans in Columbus have sidelined a package of what Kasich dubbed "sensible (gun law) changes that should keep people safer" that the governor advanced this spring.
Ohio is not unique in watching legislation restricting gun use languish.
An Associated Press review of all firearms-related legislation passed this year, encompassing the first full state legislative sessions since the deadly gun attack in Las Vegas, shows a mixed record nationally. Gun control bills passed in a number of states, but the year was not the national game-changer that gun-control advocates had hoped it could be.
Kasich said more public pressure must be brought to bear to get lawmakers to act.
"It's just hard to do this, particularly when it leaves the public consciousness soon after it happens," Kasich said in an interview with the AP.
Kasich said public concern appeared to wane after two Westerville police officers were fatally shot in February and it will surely happen again with the gun attack that left three people dead and two others injured Sept. 6 in Cincinnati.
He protested legislative inaction on the Ohio bill by declining to sign the next gun measure that crossed his desk.
He didn't oppose the second bill, which waived certain concealed carry license fees and firearms training requirements for current and former military members. He wanted to make a point.
But that protest and others — including by throngs of high-schoolers who protested at the Ohio Statehouse after being sparked to action by student deaths in Parkland, Florida — have done little to change the debate.
"Certainly, I think that we have to deal with the culture of violence that exists in our society, but additional firearms restrictions will do nothing," said state Rep. Niraj Antani, of Miamisburg, who is among many virulent gun rights Republicans at the Statehouse. "Criminals do not follow the law and criminals are the ones who perpetrate these shootings."
State Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Cleveland-area Democrat, said she has watched for years as bills limiting guns have failed in the GOP-dominated Legislature.
"It gets incorporated into sort of that foundational belief that 'This is who we are,'" she said. "But I don't think this is what the framers of the Second Amendment had in mind."
Kasich acted this week to circumvent the Legislature, signing a pair of executive orders that he said can advance some of the recommendations of his bipartisan working group on gun policy.
One order keeps alive the panel, which was made up of Second Amendment supporters across the political spectrum, to keep chipping away at gaps in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. The second establishes emergency rules requiring law enforcement agencies around the state to upload protection orders and warrants into the statewide law enforcement database.
Asked if there are other ways for him to circumvent the Legislature, Kasich said: "Every day we look."