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Columbus To Kasich: Let Us Pass Local Gun Control

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther
Jay LaPrete
Associated Press

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and city leaders sent an open letter to Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday, demanding the Ohio legislature restore the rights of cities to enact gun control measures.

“As public servants in Columbus, it is our responsibility to keep our city safe – but elected officials at the statehouse have taken away our ability to enact laws that can reduce gun violence,” the letter reads. “That must change.”

In 2006, the Ohio General Assembly passed a law that prohibits cities and other localities from enforcing gun control measures stricter than the state’s laws. That overrode Columbus’ own regulations on assault weapons, which were passed after the federal ban expired in 2004.

That law was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2010, after Cleveland sued to pass handgun registration requirements and an assault weapon ban. Columbus leaders say the consequences of that law have been stark.

“Today, assault weapons are being used in Columbus and across the country to commit crimes of unfathomable violence,” the letter reads.

In 2017, Columbus experienced a record high number of homicides – 143, the vast majority of which were from gun violence.

Columbus leaders say they were “encouraged” by Kasich’s recent comments calling for “common sense” gun restrictions and action on the local and state level.

“Where we have to affect this, I believe, is at the local level and the Statehouse, because you can have greater access to politicians who serve in the state legislature, in the county commission, in the city council," Kasich said on CNN in February. "That’s where you need to put the pressure and call these people out.”

Now, cities want to see him follow through.

“In Columbus, we will lead boldly and without reservation to reduce gun violence,” the letter reads. “We urge you to join us.”

The letter calls for a number of other gun control initiatives, including universal background checks on all gun sales, the prohibition of guns from people convicted of domestic violence or subject to stalking orders, and the repeal of laws allowing concealed carry of weapons in parks, day cares and school zones.

The letter was cosigned by Columbus city attorney Zach Klein and Columbus City Council president Shannon G. Hardin. It follows a resolution passed this week by Akron City Council, asking the Ohio General Assembly to pass an assault weapons ban.

Democrats in the Ohio Senate have proposed legislation that would do just that.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.