WASHINGTON - Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman predicted that intensified public pressure will force lawmakers on Capitol Hill to adopt some gun restrictions, and he said that Gov. John Kasich "ought to take a position and do something" in the state legislature.
WASHINGTON — Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman predicted that intensified public pressure will force lawmakers on Capitol Hill to adopt some gun restrictions, and he said that Gov. John Kasich “ ought to take a position and do something” in the state legislature.
Coleman, among a group of mayors who listened to a speech yesterday on gun control by Vice President Joe Biden, acknowledged that getting some restrictions approved by the U.S. Senate and House “will be tough.” But he said most Americans are now saying that Congress needs to do something.
“The more Congress says no, the more the public will say yes,” Coleman said. “They (Congress) have to do something. The public counts. I hope so. We’re in a democracy.”
In his speech yesterday, Biden said: “We’re going to take this fight to the halls of Congress. We’re going to take it beyond that. We’re going to take it to the American people. We’re going to go around the country making our case, and we’re going to let the voice of the American people be heard.”
Coleman also called for “a dual track on gun control in America,” with governors and state lawmakers pushing for tougher gun laws. He warned that the political fallout “could be really bad for those who are tone deaf on this issue.”
In a reference to conjecture that Kasich might run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Coleman said gun control “might be a litmus test for any presidential candidate. Any successful presidential candidate will probably have to weigh in on the right side of reasonable and rational gun control.”
President Barack Obama and Biden urged Congress on Wednesday to approve a series of gun restrictions, including a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons; criminal and mental-health background checks on anyone trying to buy a gun; and reducing the number of bullets contained in gun magazines.
The White House unveiled the plans after last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed by a gunman with a semi-automatic assault weapon.
Many congressional Republicans and a number of Democrats are reluctant to approve new gun restrictions, in part because of intense lobbying pressure from the National Rifle Association, which adamantly opposes Obama’s plan.
But Coleman said, “The arguments are so compelling that there will be a growing movement from people not engaged in this debate (to start) saying yes, something needs to happen.”
Coleman cited Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, who said on Tuesday that he might support background checks on all people buying a gun, which the mayor said would be “a big deal.” Under current law, private sales of guns at gun shows are permitted without the buyer undergoing a criminal background check.
“That will sort out a lot of the bad actors here,” Coleman said, adding that “we had 125 assault weapons taken off the streets” last year in Columbus. They originally had been purchased legally.
“Nobody is trying to take away guns; we’re all Second Amendment people. But certain weapons like assault weapons — and background checks — only make it safer for everybody.”
Coleman was attending the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He plans to attend Obama’s second inauguration on Monday before returning to Columbus.
Information from McClatchy Newspapers was included in this story.