Ohio gun owners, energized by Kasich's support for pro-gun legislation, look forward to other critical fixes in months to come

Governor Kasich signs Ohio Restaurant Carry Bill
Gov. John Kasich signs Restaurant carry bill. Nikki Goeser's gift of
John Lott's "The Bias Against Guns" can be seen at his left.

by Jim Irvine

With the signing of SB17 and HB54, Governor Kasich provided weight to his supporters' assurances that he would be friendly to Second Amendment issues. Kasich signed the two pro-freedom bills into law in the first six months of a legislative session - the fastest any governor has signed bills supported by the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association.

Kasich campaigned as a candidate who would be friendly toward gun owners. Many were concerned that he would be passive-aggressive on this issue, such as the prior Republican Governor, Bob Taft, who campaigned as pro-gun, then worked to stall and kill concealed carry legislation his first term, signed a watered-down version in his second, and had his veto of statewide preemption overridden in his final days in office. Kasich clearly separates himself from the Taft comparisons and even bests pro-gun stalwart Ted Strickland on how fast he signed favorable legislation after taking office.

Kasich, who received lukewarm treatment from gun groups during the campaign, was warm and gracious during the bill signing. He welcomed representatives from the NRA, Ohioans For Concealed Carry and Buckeye Firearms Association, as well as people personally affected by both pieces of legislation who had testified in support during committee hearings.

On a day when the Governor was signing other significant legislation, it was a nice touch to make time for the people and groups that lobbied for and are directly affected by the new laws. It was a signal that he considers the issue an important one and worthy of recognition.

The issues addressed were left over from last session when Democratic Speaker of the House Armond Budish refused to allow them to be voted on the House floor, despite obvious support for their passage. Ohio Republicans have suffered in recent years, yielding the pro-gun mantle to Ted Strickland and Democrats. Having taken back the Ohio House and many statewide offices, the Republicans wasted little time picking up the Democrats' dropped balls and moving them across the goal line. Interestingly, formerly pro-gun House Democrats suddenly reversed positions on firearms issues, helping Republicans eager to prove their superior support for gun owners.

With 18 months or three fourths of the current session still ahead, many gun owners are now excited about what a Republican-controlled legislature will accomplish. Like concealed carry and restaurant carry, Ohio has typically been one of the last few states to adopt laws friendly to gun owners. There is now hope that we might finally lead and become one of the first few states to adopt laws that recognize that restoring rights to law-abiding gun owners is good policy.

We thank Governor Kasich and all who supported these bills. The governor has taken the first critical steps to show why gun owners will want to support him in 2014. Still, no politician can claim that six months defines who they are on an issue. Ohio law is rife with firearms-related issues that desperately need to be revised and improved. We hope Kasich will provide strong pro-gun leadership by working with the legislature to address these issues.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

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