Cleveland rally calls for statewide assault weapons ban

CLEVELAND – The school shooting in Parkland, Florida has renewed calls by some for stricter gun control measures and a ban on the types of weapons used in many mass shootings.

A rally in Cleveland, organized by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich, called on state lawmakers to enact an assault weapons ban. Kucinich offered a model resolution that local governments can use to urge the Ohio Legislature to act.

“We are going to show people that we have the power to push back, we're going to show people that Ohio, the people of this state, can lead the way in an assault weapons ban,” Kucinich said to a crowd gathered in a meeting room of the DoubleTree hotel.

Chants of “enough is enough” filled the room as rainy weather forced dozens indoors after the rally was originally planned to take place on the steps of Cleveland City Hall.

“It's hard when your 4-year-old comes home from school and has to describe to you an active shooter drill they went through in preschool,” said Ashley Roden, of Rocky River. “We just can't sit idly by while our children are murdered in our schools.”

The suspected shooter in Florida, Nikolas Cruz, purchased an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle legally, as have other mass shooters.

Tara Samples, an Akron City Councilwoman and Kucinich’s Democratic running mate for Lieutenant Governor, said a ban is not an attack on responsible gun owners.

“These weapons aren't used to protect the home or for hunting,” Samples said. “These are military weapons used to kill.”

A federal assault weapons ban, which included a ban on high-capacity magazines, expired in 2004 after a decade in effect.

A 2017 Pew Research poll found a majority of Americans – 68% -- support an assault weapons ban, but it’s opposed by powerful gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association.

Ohio lawmakers and courts have restricted the ability of cities like Cleveland to enact their own gun control measures. The Republican-controlled state legislature has rejected past gun control proposals, but passed several pro-gun rights measures that were signed into law by Republican Governor John Kasich.

On CNN Sunday, Kasich said his stance on gun control has changed.

“Where we have to effect this, I believe, is at the local level and statehouse because you can have greater access to politicians,” Kasich said. “You're never going to fix all of this, but commonsense gun laws make sense.”

Kasich said he has charged a bipartisan group with recommending solutions.

Kucinich said Kasich should join his movement for a ban, and if he has in fact changed his thinking, Kasich should lead a repeal of every permissive gun bill he has signed. He said he believes there is public support for new legislation.

“I believe we're at a tipping point in this issue,” Kucinich said. “I believe all over America, people sense the time has arrived to take action.”