Days after one of the most deadly school shootings in U.S. history, there are some signs that the National Rifle Association’s stranglehold on the Republican party may be loosening slightly. Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), who touted an ‘A’ NRA rating during his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign, called for “commonsense gun control” and questioned the need for semi-automatic weapons during an appearance on CNN Sunday morning.
Former Rep. David Jolly, a Republican from Florida who ran with the NRA’s support and longtime GOP donor Al Hoffman Jr. have also echoed those calls.
On CNN Sunday morning, Kasich said he asked a gun-collector friend of his if his Second Amendment rights would be eroded if he couldn’t buy a “god darn AR-15.”
“These are the things that have to be looked at and action has to happen before, and look, your never going to fix all of this, but common sense gun laws make sense,” Kasich said.
There have been renewed calls for gun control reform following the latest mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which the gunman used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. It was the 17th shooting at a school in 2018, and the 30th mass shooting this year.
Prominent Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have since echoed NRA talking points that gun control laws would not have prevented the school shooting, and people would figure out how to obtain guns and go on murderous rampages regardless. President Trump also claimed the mass shooting illustrated the need to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” He also baselessly blamed the FBI for focusing its resources towards its investigation into Russia’s meddling into 2016 presidential election instead of stopping the attack.
But survivors of the Parkland attack have been among the voices throughout the country calling for gun control.
Jolly said on CNN Thursday that Republicans actively try to get speaking slots at the NRA and prove to their constituents they are further right on gun control than other party candidates.
“Republicans will never do anything on gun control,” Jolly said. “If this is the issue that defines your ideology as a voter, there are two things that I would suggest tonight. First, flip the house. Flip the house. Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting we saw today.”
"Republicans will never do anything on gun control," says former GOP Rep. David Jolly. "The idea of gun policy in the Republican party is to try to get a speaking slot at the NRA and prove to that constituency that you are further right." pic.twitter.com/4ijiJ4ZwKW
— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2018
But Hoffman, a Florida-based real estate developer that has donated millions to Republican campaigns, gave GOP politicians an ultimatum: either support new gun legislation or he would stop giving them money, according to the New York Times.
Kasich, who will finish his second and final term as Ohio’s governor in January 2019, voted to support assault weapons in 1994, earning him an F-rating from the NRA. But after the NRA endorsed his 2010 opponent in the race for Ohio governor, his stance on guns began to change. According to The Trace, Governor Kasich has not vetoed a single pro-gun bill passed by the state’s general assembly and signed bills allowing guns in the Ohio Statehouse parking garage and concealed handguns in bars.
It is unclear whether Kasich’s new pro-gun control position will lead to proposed legislation in Ohio or if it will continue if he runs for higher office once again.