COLUMBUS — With fellow Republicans controlling the Ohio General Assembly and Congress yet to commit to change, Gov. John Kasich warns there should be a price paid if they fail to enact reforms to address gun violence.
Saying there are “a bunch of politicians who are afraid of their own shadows,” the lame-duck governor and potential repeat presidential candidate appeared Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union” following March for Our Lives gun-control rallies in Columbus and across the nation.
Kasich has proposed a modest package of gun-safety reforms, including gun-violence protection orders to seize guns from those deemed a threat, but the Republicans who control the legislature have not embraced any of them, saying discussions and study are continuing.
Asked about the marches in the wake of the fatal shootings of 17 students and teachers at a Parkland, Florida high school, Kasich said, “If they do not bring about change, I think people should absolutely be held accountable at the ballot box.”
“It reminds me of some of the protests that have changed people in office, but they’ve got to keep it up,” Kasich said. “The people are basically saying they can’t stand what is happening in Washington.”
He added: “Those who want no change will just sit on their hands … If we keep the pressure on — we’re not going to change everything overnight — but you can get significant change, and I hope so.”
Kasich also has indicated he supports a ban on assault-style weapons used in recent mass shootings and high-capacity ammunition magazines, but said his proposals had to recognize what was politically feasible before the GOP-controlled legislature.
In a tweet following his TV appearance, Kasich wrote: “Reducing gun violence is going to require courage from our political leaders. The people can give them that courage. Don’t let up. Keep the pressure on.”
Kasich voted in favor of the now-expired assault weapons ban while in Congress. As governor, he has signed several bills into low expanding concealed-carry rights and where handguns can be carried.
Continuing his refusal to dampen speculation he may run again in 2020 against President Donald Trump as a Republican or independent, Kasich was asked about friend and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling on him last week to “kick butt” and seek election to the Oval Office.
“It gives me a big lift,” Kasich said, while ducking the question if he would oppose Trump, whom he refused to endorse, voting instead for Arizona Sen. John McCain, and regularly criticizes.
“Anything that I do in politics, you know, I would put a little bit more delicately, but I would say that I’m going to — I have always been very aggressive in promoting the things that I believe in.”
The governor also expressed concern over Trump’s nomination of John Bolton as his national security adviser, saying of Bolton’s call for pre-emptive strikes on Iran and North Korea: “That kind of language bothers me.”
Kasich also objected to Trump calling to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his re-election. “Look, this guy, he’s the worst. He’s a dictator … They want to exploit our weaknesses.”