Mayors Against Illegal Guns TV ads pose question for DeWine & Kasich

By Chad D. Baus

In 2009, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), the gun control front group run by billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, made news for apparently having added the names of mayors to his group without permission.

In 2010, Bloomberg hopes to make news for a different reason. According to a recent MAIG press release, the gun ban group is spending more than a quarter of a million dollars to release a series of television commercials on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and in local markets in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia. The ads call on senators from those states to join a minority that wishes to ban private sales of firearms between individuals at gun shows.

Using the 11th anniversary of the infamous killing spree in the "no-guns" Columbine high school as a backdrop (and repeating the lie that requiring background checks at gun shows could have stopped that attack - it wouldn't have), Bloomberg is hoping to pressure three Democrats (Mark Udall [CO], Jim Webb and Mark Warner [VA]) and four Republicans (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins [ME], Scott Brown [MA], and George Voinovich [OH]) to go against the will of the American people by supporting legislation that would regulate gun shows out of existence.

It seems clear that Bloomberg is desperate to pressure a vote before the 2010 elections, when many expect that voters will rid Washington D.C. of even more anti-gun legislators. (For example, here in Ohio, George Voinovich has wisely decided not to seek reelection, and staunchly pro-gun Rob Portman seeks to replace him as the Republican nominee.)

Since briefly-"Republican" Mayor Michael Bloomberg seeks to make the mythical "gun show loophole" an issue this campaign season, questions should naturally be asked of the two Republican candidates for statewide office in Ohio who have previously cast votes in support of this gun control proposal, but are now voicing support for the Second Amendment in their campaigns.

John Kasich is the presumptive Republican nominee for state governor. At one point during his time in the U. S. Congress, Kasich held an "F" rating from the NRA, having voted for the now-defunct Clinton Gun Ban, which outlawed many semi-automatic rifles simply for having certain "scary-looking" cosmetic features, in the name of fighting crime. Two years later, he also voted against its repeal.

But in the past few years, and certainly since his campaign for governor got underway, Kasich has made a number of attempts at reaching out to pro-gun voters, including a visit to the Ohio Trapshooting Association's State Shoot and a public statement on the Second Amendment last June, as well as his fielding of questions about gun rights at the Cincinnati-area Voice of America TEA Party last September and at a live town hall meeting broadcast to house parties in all 88 Ohio counties. In January, Kasich named current State Auditor Mary Taylor as his running mate. Taylor has been endorsed by the Buckeye Firearms Association many times in the past. And late last month, via a blog post, Kasich called on the Ohio legislature to pass Senate Bill 239, designed to update Ohio's current concealed carry laws to make them more consistent with those in other states.

The Kasich campaign has also released a list of the former Congressman's pro-gun votes, quotes, and historical NRA ratings. Among a number of votes that couldn't be listed as pro-gun, however, were two 1999 votes for the same gun control proposal that Mayor Bloomberg is pushing - legislation that, in the opinion of the National Rifle Association, would result in the end of gun shows entirely. (It bears noting that Kasich's Democrat opponent, incumbent Governor Ted Strickland, was also a Congressman at the time, and voted with the NRA and against this gun control proposal.)

Mike DeWine is the presumptive Republican nominee for state attorney general, and has been spending his time this primary season crisscrossing the state in an attempt to regain the favor of those he snubbed while in D.C. DeWine has attended the U.S. Sportsmen Alliance Banquet and the 51st Annual Buckeye Buck Club Awards and Show, after which he sent out a mailer bragging about his "strong support for our 2nd Amendment rights."

More recently, DeWine publicly announced that he was attending a class to obtain his Ohio concealed handgun license. Additionally, he has sought meetings with members of the grassroots pro-gun movement, including myself and several other Buckeye Firearms Association leaders.

But among the many votes that earned this former senator a ranking among the Top 10 anti-gun U.S. Senators were sponsorships and votes for bills that contained the same gun control proposal that Bloomberg is pushing.

So with all their current talk of support for the Second Amendment, where do John Kasich and Mike DeWine stand on this issue today?

The DeWine campaign isn't saying - at least not officially. When he asked, the most that BFA Chairman Jim Irvine was able to get was a general statement that, if elected, DeWine will enforce existing laws.

DeWine may or may not have made a short trip down the long road to a pro-gun conversion, but based on a personal conversation I had with him last month on this very subject, I believe it's safe to say that he still sides with the gun ban extremists on this issue. Whether or not pro-gun voters will be at all motivated by his, at best, very incomplete conversion remains to be seen.

Kasich, on the other hand, replied to an inquiry with the following statement:

As I stated in my National Rifle Association Questionnaire, I oppose legislation that would restrict firearms sales by occasional sellers and private collectors at gun shows.

Further, as I responded in my Buckeye Firearms Association Questionnaire, I believe that there should be fewer laws restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens and that passing more laws won't fix our problems. We must enforce the laws we have and hold individuals responsible for their own actions.

I have no doubt that Gov. Strickland will be making much of Kasich's checkered past on the gun issue in the run-up to the general election. It will be interesting to see whether or not Kasich is successful in his efforts to convince the millions of pro-gun voters in Ohio that he can be trusted with their Second Amendment rights.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman, and a Member of the Fulton Co. (OH) Republican Central Committee.

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