By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich plans to sign legislation that will allow guns stored in cars parked in the Statehouse garage, despite calls from some that he veto the measure.
House Bill 495, passed by the Ohio House and Senate in the waning days of the outgoing General Assembly, heads to the governor’s desk days after a Connecticut school shooting that left 26 people, most of them young children, dead.
The shooter also killed his mother, at home, and himself.
The incident has prompted a national debate on gun control.
“The mass shooting calls into question what we should be doing in the state of Ohio to keep our children safe,” Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney, a Democrat from Cincinnati, said in a released statement. “Unfortunately, we have witnessed a steady weakening of Ohio’s gun laws during the 129th General Assembly. First, it was guns in bars, and then just last week the Ohio Senate passed a bill to allow guns in the Statehouse and Riffe Building parking garages. Surely, after the massacre of 20 young children, the answer is not more guns in more places.”
Asked about the legislation Tuesday, Kasich said the gun-law issues addressed in the bill are separate from the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., and the need to ensure Ohio’s schoolchildren are safe.
“Whatever we do, we don’t want to erode the Second Amendment right of law-abiding citizens, and that’s important,” he said. “I think the bill that passed overwhelmingly is a measured approach.”
Kasich also said his administration is focusing its attention on school- safety issues.
“We’ll be studying everything that’s being said nationally, but at this point, our focus right now is what can we do to make our schools safer,” he said, adding later, “It would be a big mistake for us not to focus on the fundamental cause of this violence, which in many cases is deep societal issues that involve treatment of the mentally ill.
“It involves the unbelievable amount of violence that we see everyday, whether it’s in the movies or on television, and the most important thing for us right now here in the state of Ohio is to make sure that we have safe schools. And we’re going to do everything we can to do it. We’ve got a committee working on this.”