News & Politics

Will John Kasich Sell Out the Second Amendment and Ban ‘Assault Weapons'?

John Kasich (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

On the Second Amendment, Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich appears to be evolving in real time. Worse, he may support a ban on “assault weapons,” echoing his comments about limiting the “God-darn AR-15” rifle.

“Would you feel as though your Second Amendment rights would be eroded because you couldn’t buy a God-darn AR-15?” Kasich said to CNN’s Dana Bash, responding to a friend and gun collector. “These are the things that have to be looked at. And action has to happen before – and, look, you’re never going to fix all of this, but commonsense gun laws make sense.”

Kasich also altered his “Second Amendment” page on his website. The old version hailed the governor as “a strong supporter of the right to bear arms” who had “signed every pro-2nd amendment bill that has crossed his desk to defend this basic, constitutional right.”

The new version admits that “Kasich supports the Second Amendment,” but adds, “As a pragmatic conservative Governor Kasich also recognizes the need for common-sense solutions to our nation’s problems.” His new page emphasizes “a dramatic increase in school shootings and mass killings — many with the use of semi-automatic weapons,” and calls for “appropriate action” such as “limiting the ability to sell weapons that have often been used in mass killings.”

On Tuesday, Democrats in the Ohio Senate offered Kasich a way to concretely betray his old constituency of gun-owning National Rifle Association (NRA) members.

Sens. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) proposed a ban on “assault weapons,” including the type of gun used to kill 17 students and teachers in the February 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla. Language in the bill could effectively ban all semi-automatic weapons, Cincinnati.com reported.

In S.B. 260, Skindell and Tavares defined an “assault weapon” as any automatic or semi-automatic firearm capable of accepting 10 or more cartridges. This would be a major change, as any semi-automatic weapon can be fitted with a high-capacity magazine that holds more than 10 cartridges. Many newer semi-automatic pistols have factory settings with 12- to 17-round magazines.

S.B. 260 would make possession of such a gun a fifth-degree felony punishable by up to 12 months in prison and a $2,500 fine. The bill would also require all Ohio gun sellers to report firearm and ammunition sales to the state attorney general’s office.

This bill would vastly expand upon national bans of specific kinds of semi-automatic weapons which Kasich voted for in Congress between 1994 and 2004.

“The recent, sorrowful events in Florida and Nevada and so many more places teach us why it is important to ban weapons that are meant for waging war,” Skindell said in a statement.

The Democrat’s statement proved unintentionally revealing. The right to bear arms, tracing back to the Bill of Rights in 1689 as part of the Glorious Revolution, stands as a final check against government tyranny. Chinese dictator Mao Zedong declared that “all political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”

Furthermore, the very text of the Second Amendment defends the right to bear arms on the grounds that “a well-regulated militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State.” Militias proved essential to the Revolutionary War effort, and the right to bear arms harkened back to that point. A ban on “weapons that are meant for waging war” is the exact opposite of the Second Amendment.

Luckily for freedom-loving Ohioans, any ban on “assault weapons” would have to pass the Ohio House and Senate, both of which are dominated by Republicans.

“It is an insane idea. It just doesn’t work and our kids deserve a solution that does work,” Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, told Cincinnati.com. Irvine echoed two other kinds of proposals that might better protect children in schools, without infringing on the Second Amendment: addressing mental health and arming (gun-adept) teachers, a proposal President Trump has well articulated.

A Kasich spokesman declined to state whether or not the governor would sign S.B. 260 should the measure pass. He said Kasich is speaking with people on both sides of the issue.

While former Congressman Dennis Kucinich — one of the Democrats running to replace Kasich as governor — has called for such a ban, at least two other Democrat gubernatorial candidates do not support a measure like S.B. 260.

“Studies from gun reform groups like Everytown for Gun Safety tell us bans aren’t very effective. Sellers tell us bans would greatly increase demand & illegal sales,” state Sen. Joe Schiavoni tweeted. “So I’m working to close loopholes, increase regulations, & keep guns out of dangerous hands.”

Former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau leader Rich Cordray, another Democrat running for governor, also refused to support such a ban.

If Schiavoni is correct, and somehow S.B. 260 passes with Kasich’s support, the governor may not only sell out his pro-Second Amendment supporters but also end up doing more harm than good in the arena of gun violence. In fact, the cities that have the strictest gun restrictions have the highest rates of gun violence. With the increase of gun sales, crimes involving guns have actually gone down.

It may not be too late for Kasich to return to his NRA base and champion the Second Amendment once again, but if his current trend continues, the governor may betray his gun-owning constituency and actually make the problem worse.