COLUMBUS — Want a governor who’s all-in on gun rights? How about one who’s fighting for a complete statewide ban on assault-type weapons?
In politically diverse Ohio, voters have their pick of those positions — and just about everything in between — from a crowded field of contenders trying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich.
In the wake of dramatic calls for action that have followed a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last week that left 17 people dead. Republican Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor reasserted her support for the Second Amendment and called for more “trained, law-abiding citizens to carry a gun on campus.”
As Taylor runs to the right of Republican rival Attorney General Mike DeWine, Democratic gubernatorial contender Dennis Kucinich is going the opposite way.
The former Cleveland mayor and congressman fired up supporters at a Monday anti-gun rally in Cleveland by calling for a complete ban on assault-type weapons across Ohio. He accompanied his demands with a model resolution that local governments can use to urge Ohio’s Republican-controlled General Assembly to pass such a ban. Two Democrats introduced the bill Tuesday.
“I believe that we are at a tipping point, that the public awareness of the danger of these assault weapons is so powerful, that no matter who is in office, or who aspires to office, this event in Parkland has created a sea change in the way we’re approaching this issue where people are becoming motivated and activated because they realize that all our lives are on the line here,” Kucinich said.
Somewhere in the middle are DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, the former federal consumer protection chief.
DeWine responded to the Florida massacre with a three-point plan centered on beefing up children’s safety, while supporting no new gun laws.
The DeWine plan calls for one mental health professional in every school, more robust use of Ohio’s background check system and insistence that Ohio’s existing center for strategic analysis of threats use “every current and emerging technology to analyze, investigate, and intercept any threats to Ohio children and schools.”
“We must protect our children at all times — especially in school,” he said. “These are tangible efforts that will help ensure that our kids get the help and protection they need.”
At a breakfast for prosecutors held in Canton on Tuesday, Cordray also supported expanded background checks and increased support for school safety measures. He said he would fight for a statewide ban on the sale of bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic the rapid fire of machine guns. Cordray also said he would create local gun trafficking task forces and appoint a “gun violence prevention czar” if elected.
“Throughout my career in public office, I have supported responsible gun ownership by law-abiding citizens and I continue to do so in accord with the Second Amendment,” Cordray said. “But as a supporter of responsible gun ownership, I believe we must strongly enforce existing laws, take steps to ensure these laws are not being circumvented, and take further steps to make sure these guns don’t get into the wrong hands and are not being enhanced to engage in mass killings.”
Kucinich questioned Cordray for failing to support an all-out ban on assault-style weapons, which appears to be gaining ground nationally.
He labeled Cordray “singularly responsible” for stripping local communities of their ability to ban assault weapons. Kucinich was referring to Cordray’s role, as Ohio’s attorney general, in defending the state in a lawsuit by Cleveland challenging a state law prohibiting local assault weapons bans.
Cordray and Kucinich are among seven Democrats running for governor. Others include state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill and Cleveland physician and venture capitalist Jon Heavey.
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