Ohio Gov. Kasich proposes ‘red flag’ law, other gun changes in state

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Ohio Governor John Kasich (R-OH), speaks to reporters after a closed meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, on February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Kasich is in Washington for the National Governors Association meetings. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio— Gov. John Kasich on Thursday advocated a “red flag” law for Ohio, a ban on armor-piercing ammunition and other gun policy positions he says represent political consensus in a bellwether state that could fly nationally.

The Republican governor proposed six changes he wants to see Ohio make related to guns and background checks. They include forcing stricter compliance deadlines and penalties around entering data into the national background check system; prohibiting those under domestic violence protection orders from buying or possessing firearms; and clarifying Ohio’s prohibition on so-called “strawman” third-party gun purchases.

The announcement comes after an extraordinary day in Washington, during which Republican President Donald Trump supported quick and substantial changes to the nation’s gun laws, including some gun control positions opposed by the powerful National Rifle Association.

Kasich’s recommendations emerged from a politically diverse advisory panel the governor assembled after Las Vegas saw the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in October. He accelerated the group’s work after 17 died in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

Kasich tapped the head of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, John Born, to lead the advisory group’s work.

Among his advisers were former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, a tough-on-crime Republican, and Nina Turner, a former Democratic state senator from Cleveland who was a national mouthpiece for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. Turner, whose son is a police officer, also served on Kasich’s commission on improving police-community relations.

“We looked at what’s causing gun violence, why are people dying in Ohio, and what are the biggest movers that we could recommend that would actually reduce that gun violence,” Born said.

Highly divisive issues — say, raising age limits of gun purchases, banning assault-style rifles or establishing reciprocity across all 50 states to carry concealed handguns — are absent, presumably because they continue to divide the group.

“Certainly, there are people of varying viewpoints on how, and other ways, we could make Ohio safer,” Born said. “But we think it was an extraordinarily reassuring perspective to see that we had broad agreement on these things.”

Among consensus items was passing a “red flag” law, as five other states have already done and numerous others are considering in the wake of the Parkland massacre. Such laws enable family members, guardians or police to ask judges to temporarily strip gun rights from people who show warning signs of violence through a new gun violence protective order.

Kasich also called on Ohio to move quickly to implement measures to ensure timely and accurate compliance with required records reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to keep guns out of the hands of those with criminal convictions and other prohibited conditions.

Three other recommendations — in the areas of armor-piercing bullets, “strawman” gun purchases and gun restrictions on domestic violence offenders — involve bringing Ohio laws in line with tougher federal standards.

The panel’s final suggestion is that Ohio law be changed to automatically incorporate any future changes to federal gun regulations into state law.