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Parkland parent stands with Kasich on gun reform

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COLUMBUS — With the father of a Parkland, Fla., shooting victim at his side, Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday urged lawmakers to set aside partisan differences and enact “common-sense” gun law reforms.

“I’m sort of sick and tired of talking about Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives,” he said in a hastily called news conference outside his ceremonial Statehouse office.

“I’m interested in people who are objective and can be rational as they make decisions about this or any other issue,” the Republican governor said. He said he hopes Ohio would blaze the trail for “red states” in joining Florida in passing meaningful gun legislation.

Lawmakers began hearings Tuesday on bills encompassing Mr. Kasich’s “red-flag” proposal to proactively take the gun of someone deemed a danger, prohibit sales of armor-piercing ammunition, and block third-party “straw” sales that put guns in the hands of those legally prohibited from having them.

The bills are also designed to spur more local courts to promptly report data into the national background check system.

Fred Guttenberg’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. A 19-year-old former student walked into the school with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and opened fire. He’d legally purchased the gun despite a series of early warning signs.

“Had the law that we passed in Florida been in place on Feb. 13, my daughter would be alive today,” Mr. Guttenberg said. “It was common sense. What I can tell you is the law we passed in Florida did nothing to affect anybody’s Second Amendment rights. Everyone who was a lawful gun owner has their guns.”

He requested the meeting with Mr. Kasich, and they were joined by Republican sponsors of the newly introduced legislation.

“There are bad people in this world who want to do bad things, and what the governor and everyone here is trying to do is make it harder for those people to have access to weapons of war that could be truly devastating,” Mr. Guttenberg said.

Doug Deeken, director of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, said the governor’s appearance with Mr. Guttenberg was designed to pull at the heart strings.

“There’s so many poison pills [in the reform bill],” Mr. Deeken said, pointing specifically to the “red flag” provisions.

“The fact that you can hold a hearing without the accused present where he or she does not have the ability to confront his accuser and he can be denied a fundamental, enumerated liberty based on someone’s say-so is an affront to our legal process,” he said.

Mr. Kasich has signed every bill expanding concealed carry since he took office, and he received OFCC’s endorsement during his 2014 re-election bid. But the group endorsed his opponent, Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland, in 2010 because of Mr. Kasich’s congressional vote for the now-expired federal assault weapons ban.

Democrats have separately introduced bills to go much further than Mr. Kasich — banning assault-style weapons, mandating universal background checks, and prohibiting bump stocks that make semiautomatic weapons function more like automatic weapons.

Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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