Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Long Island Catholic hospitals gearing up to train, arm security officers

Hospitals nationally, along with school districts, places of worship and local governments, have taken steps to increase security that include hiring armed security officers and installing security cameras.

Security officers stand at their post at North
Security officers stand at their post at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset on July 10.

Northwell expects to have armed guards in all its 13 Long Island hospitals within the next several months. Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.
Armed security officers could patrol six Catholic Health Services hospitals across Long Island and NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola this year, joining armed officers deploying or already deployed at Stony Brook University Hospital and most of Northwell Health's 13 LI hospitals, officials at the health systems said.

Nationally and on Long Island in recent years, hospitals — along with school districts, places of worship and local governments — have taken steps to increase security that include hiring armed security officers, installing security cameras and metal detectors, and training staffers on active shooter scenarios with police and sheriff’s department officers.

Fifty-two percent of hospitals in a national survey had armed personnel with handguns, according to a 2016 article in the research journal Workplace Health and Safety. 

William Smith, director of security at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, a Catholic Health Services hospital, told Smithtown Town Council members at a Feb. 5 work session about St. Catherine's intention to arm security officers.

“We’re being proactive,” Smith said. “The world we live in today, it’s needed … We’re considered a soft target.”

Winthrop spokesman J. Edmund Keating cited gang violence on Long Island and mass shootings nationally, such as the Parkland, Florida, school massacre last year, as reasons why the hospital likely will add armed guards by the end of the year.

"We have pretty much reached the conclusion it’s going to be a necessity because the times have changed,” he said.

Active shooter incidents like the ones Keating referred to account for a fraction of gun deaths in the United States, and those in health care facilities comprised only four of the 50 incidents in the U.S. identified by the FBI in 2016 and 2017. But the rate of serious workplace violence incidents in health care was more than four times greater than in private industry from 2002 to 2013, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Health care accounted for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined.

There were at least 17 fatal hospital shootings across the U.S. between 2002 and 2018, according to a count by The Associated Press last year. Among the shootings was a July 2017 attack at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, where a disgruntled former doctor killed one doctor and wounded six other people.

At least two nonfatal firearm incidents occurred at Long Island hospitals during that time: John Gamble, 35, of Riverhead, in 2016 fired multiple rounds in the parking lot of Northwell’s Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, but no one was injured; and Dennis Cartwright, of Southold, armed with a pistol in 2003, held the burn unit at then-Stony Brook University Medical Center hostage because he believed the staff was not properly caring for a relative.

At Catholic Health Services, Chris Hendriks, vice president for public and external affairs, said in an email that the health system was “exploring the possibility of armed guards.” She did not consent to multiple interview requests or explain the apparent contradiction with what Smith told Smithtown officials.

Smith did not respond to a message left for him at St. Catherine, but during the work session he said Catholic Health's board in late December approved arming security officers "throughout our six hospitals." In a program "set to go live" July 1, only current or former police officers will be armed, he told the board. Policy is still being written on use of force, which weapons the officers will carry, and whether they will be uniformed or in what he called “soft” clothes, he said.

The St. Catherine staff has participated in active shooter drills with Suffolk County police and has safe rooms in the hospital, Smith said told the board.

"Police are onboard. They know," he said, though Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said the department had not been formally advised of the armed security officer program.

Cameron said his officers have helped train staffers at a number of public offices and hospitals on active shooter response. Hospitals present a unique challenge, because of their sometimes “emotionally charged environment” and the difficulty of evacuating patients who may not be able to move on their own, he said.

The department has no fixed stance on arming security officers, Cameron said. “It all depends on how it’s done — who you hire, what type of weapons you equip them with, what type of training and what type of ammunition they have,” he said.

Nassau County police conducted more than 100 active-assailant trainings over the past year for hospitals, schools, houses of worships and other entities, police spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said. 

Catholic Health Services also operates hospitals in Oyster Bay, Hempstead, North Hempstead, Brookhaven and Islip. Officials in those towns, except Islip, said the health system had not advised them of its plan. Islip chief of staff Tracey Krut said in an email the town has no jurisdiction over hospital security officers, but did not say if Catholic Health Services had told town officials of a plan to arm security officers. Krut did not respond to Newsday's requests for clarification.

Stony Brook University Hospital has had armed patrols for 25 years, Robert Lenahan, chief of the university police department, said in an email. That’s because the university has had its own police department since 1999 and, before that, had armed public-safety officers, he said. Officers patrol inside and outside the hospital.

In addition to armed police officers, there are unarmed security officers who communicate via the same campus dispatch system as armed police, Lenahan said.

Northwell expects to have armed guards in all its 13 Long Island hospitals — and all 23 regionwide — within the next several months, said Scott Strauss, assistant vice president of corporate security at Northwell and a former NYPD detective.

Other hospitals around the Island are reviewing their security needs.

South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, which is part of the Manhattan-based Mount Sinai Health System, is not considering armed guards, but “we’re always evaluating our security needs on a day-to-day basis,” so that could change, hospital spokesman Joe Calderone said.

There already are security guards at main entrances who are “eyeing everybody who walks in, walks out, walks by,” he said. More security cameras will be added inside and outside the hospital, said Stephen Biscotti, the hospital’s chief of security and a former NYPD counterterrorism detective.
Northwell, South Nassau Communities, Stony Brook and Winthrop all declined to release the number of guards or officers patrolling hospitals, with most citing security reasons. Northwell said in a statement that there are “several hundred” armed and unarmed guards in its 23 hospitals. Lenahan said that, at Stony Brook, “Levels are designed to effectively respond in emergency situations.”
South Nassau Communities, Northwell and Winthrop declined to discuss the salaries of guards. Stony Brook said in an email that the average annual salary for a campus police officer is $61,000, and for unarmed security guards $40,000.

Northwell officials said the hospital system’s beefed-up security — including armed guards and the installation of gates at entrances — likely will cost more than $1 million.

Northwell said in a statement that its “armed guards have the same authority as an unarmed guard” and can use physical, nonlethal force in limited circumstances, such as defending someone or preventing theft.

“If we feel an arrest is warranted, the police are notified,” the statement said.

A Nassau University Medical Center spokesman declined to comment on what type of security it has at the public hospital in East Meadow and whether any guards are armed.

Richard Margulis, president of Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue, said in an email that “to maintain the highest level of security for LI Community Hospital, we do not divulge our security procedures, personnel or technology.”   

Roy Williams, president-elect of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety, a health care security association, said hospitals need to conduct their own risk and needs assessment to decide whether to arm security officers. Many have turned to health care security consultants to help analyze risk factors, including police response time and local crime statistics, he said. Armed officers are only one element of a strategy to mitigate risk, he said.

 "There are so many things that have to be considered," Williams said. "The days of having one plan that fits everything are long gone."

At Winthrop, security preparations may involve hiring an outside security company to provide armed officers to supplement unarmed ones, since current officers are not licensed to carry weapons, Keating said. Hospital officials are also considering whether to install physical barriers — such as turnstiles or gates that open and close — at entrances.

“We’ve always been known as, and will continue to be known as, a welcoming place,” Keating said. “That’s part of the dilemma. Obviously putting up those kinds of barriers sends a different message."

Monday, November 26, 2018

Lawyer: Buffalo priest aimed gun at boy's head while molesting him

A deceased former Buffalo Diocese priest is accused of pointing a gun at the head of a teenage boy he was molesting in the mid-1980s.

The sexual abuses are alleged to have happened after Buffalo Diocese officials were told the Rev. Michael R. Freeman had molested other boys and young men, but kept him in ministry.
Freeman was serving as associate pastor at St. Mary parish in Lancaster in the mid-1980s when he allegedly pointed a gun at the boy to persuade him to have sexual contact.

That startling new allegation was made by the now-49-year-old man in a compensation claim submitted to a Buffalo Diocese program offering monetary settlements to victims of childhood sexual abuse.

The man also said in his claim that Freeman provided absolution of the boy’s sins immediately following the acts of abuse, according to Steve Boyd, an Amherst attorney who represents the man. Catholics believe that priests alone, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, have the power to free those who confess their sins from the spiritual consequences of those transgressions.

“This was the pattern that began, that Freeman would have this child perform oral sex on him and then absolve him of the sin afterwards,” said Boyd.

The priest began having sexual contact with the boy when the boy was about 14, according to Boyd.

Boyd submitted the claim for the man, who declined to be interviewed by The News but authorized Boyd to speak on his behalf. The man lives outside of Western New York, said Boyd. He is married and has children.

The man also said that Freeman, a former Buffalo police and military chaplain, regularly carried a silver-plated .38-caliber revolver, according to Boyd.

“And if the child would not participate willingly in Freeman’s sexual abuse, Freeman would jokingly threaten him with the revolver,” said Boyd. “He always carried it concealed. And several times, Freeman put the gun to the boy’s head.”

In addition, the man accused Freeman of paying a male prostitute in Toronto to have sex with them both, said Boyd.

“Freeman would take the child to Toronto with him and on one occasion Freeman paid a prostitute whose name was Scott to have sex with Freeman and the boy,” he said.

The abuse began in 1984 or 1985 and continued through the victim’s high school years, said Boyd.

Report: Diocese knew of history

Buffalo Diocese officials knew in 1981 that Freeman had a history of abuse, according to a Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August.

Edward D. Head was the bishop of Buffalo at the time. One of his top administrators was Monsignor Donald W. Trautman, who served as diocesan chancellor and vicar general and was later named auxiliary bishop in Buffalo. Trautman became bishop of the Erie Diocese in 1990.

The Buffalo Diocese did not inform the public about Freeman until March 2018, when Bishop Richard J. Malone released a list of 42 priests who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors.

The Pennsylvania grand jury, in its investigation of clergy sex abuse in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, included Freeman in its report because it found that the Buffalo priest had ministered in various assignments in Pennsylvania.

The report said Freeman admitted to committing sexual misconduct with minors at St. Margaret and St. Lawrence parishes in Buffalo, where he served in the early 1970s, and at other clergy assignments. He also taught at Bishop Turner High School.

“The Grand Jury found no documentation in Freeman’s file that indicated that the Dioceses of Buffalo or Erie ever notified law enforcement officials, despite the fact that Freeman admitted to sexually violating children in at least five of his six ministry assignments,” the grand jury report said.
The News sought additional information about the allegations against Freeman from the Buffalo Diocese. Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler said that officials could not provide answers at the moment because Freeman's personnel file - along with the files of other priests accused of abuse - has been handed over to the state Attorney General's office in response to a subpoena.

"At some point, when it is returned to us, time frame unknown, we will be able to respond to your questions," said Spangler.

An early accuser

One of Freeman's accusers, Paul Barr of Niagara Falls, said he first notified the diocese about Freeman in the early 1980s.
Barr said in an interview with The News that Freeman molested him in 1980 in the rectory of Sacred Heart Church in Niagara Falls, and he was outraged to learn the priest later victimized someone else.
“They knew, and they just turned a blind eye. What kills me is he abused people after I reported it. I think that bothers me more than anything,” said Barr, an attorney in Niagara Falls.

Barr also filed a claim this year for compensation from the diocese.  
Barr said his abuse happened after the priest invited him to the rectory to talk about staying involved in the parish’s youth ministry program. The invitation seemed innocuous enough: Barr, who was 16 at the time, took his Catholic faith seriously and was flattered by the priest’s interest in him.
“The first thing he did was hand me a beer,” said Barr. “I didn’t even like beer, but I said to myself, ‘This is cool, I’m drinking beer with a priest.’ "

But at the meeting, Barr said, the priest told him he needed to be checked for a sports injury that could be serious if not detected early. “He said, ‘You want me to check you out, make sure you’re all right?’ ” recalled Barr, who was a high school wrestler. “He seemed to be stressing it was something that athletes got. So he was flattering me, saying, ‘You must be an athlete.’ ”

Barr said he trusted the priest. But then Freeman fondled him, he said. “It wasn’t an examination touch,” said Barr.

Barr said he reported the molestation to the Buffalo Diocese a couple years later, at the urging of a youth minister who drove him to the chancery offices. Barr didn’t recall the name of the woman to whom he gave the report.

“I don’t know if it was a nun or a social worker. I told her the story, just as I’m telling you,” he said. “She more or less thanked me for coming in. And that was it. There was no follow up or anything.”
Barr said he’s gone to counseling for years to work through the emotional impact of the abuse.

Grand jury report

A summary of Freeman’s sexual misconduct was included in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, but it’s not clear if the grand jury obtained information about Freeman from the Buffalo Diocese or from a diocese in Pennsylvania.

The report stated that Freeman was assigned to St. Christopher in Tonawanda, Pa., in 1982 and to St. Mary in Lancaster, Pa., in 1984. However, there is no Tonawanda in Pennsylvania, and Freeman is listed in Buffalo Diocese directories as assigned to St. Christopher in Tonawanda, N.Y., in 1982 and to St. Mary in Lancaster, N.Y., in 1984.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office declined to comment on the discrepancies.

Trautman, who retired in 2012 and is now bishop emeritus of Erie, said he doesn’t remember Freeman working in any parishes in the Erie Diocese.

“I think it’s a mistake. He was never a priest of the Erie Diocese,” said Trautman. “I think his crime was he brought a young boy from Jamestown into the Erie Diocese and molested him.”

Trautman on Freeman allegations

Trautman was a high-ranking administrator in the Buffalo Diocese for more than 15 years prior to his appointment in 1990 as bishop of Erie. In his administrative roles in the Buffalo Diocese – he served as Head’s second-in-command for much of the 1970s and 1980s – he likely would have dealt with abuse allegations against Freeman and other priests.

But Trautman, 82, said in a telephone interview that he didn’t recall the accusations against Freeman or how the priest’s case was handled in Buffalo.

“The general practice was if the priest has proven sins against him, he’s taken out of ministry,” he said.

Trautman was heavily criticized in the grand jury report for his handling of sex abuse complaints in the Erie Diocese.

But Trautman said he removed many priests from ministry and years ago handed over diocesan files on abusive priests to the Erie County (Pa.) District Attorney’s Office. He served as Erie bishop until his retirement in 2012.

“Not everything in that grand jury report is accurate,” he said. “I think there are many instances where the report is not factual.”

The grand jury report stated that Freeman’s faculties as a priest were revoked in 1989 and that the diocese continued to provide financial aid to Freeman until July 31, 1999, when he told diocese officials that he had a new job that would provide a salary and health insurance.

Freeman went on to work for the Veterans Health Administration. He was listed in 2009 as a social worker with the Canandaigua VA Medical Center in Ontario County, according to federalpay.org, a website that tracks federal employees.

He died in 2010, at age 63, in Highland Hospital in Rochester after a brief illness, according to an obituary in the Niagara Gazette.

Story topics:

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Faith-Based Anti-Gun Coalition Formed to Take Down a Gun Manufacturer...From The Inside Out

Faith-Based Anti-Gun Coalition Formed to Take Down a Gun Manufacturer...From The Inside Out

Faith-Based Anti-Gun Coalition Formed to Take Down a Gun Manufacturer...From The Inside Out
A group of 11 Catholic groups came together to purchase stock in Smith & Wesson. The group purchased 200 shares, the minimum number required to for shareholders to demand reports from the company. Now, they want the gun manufacturer to provide a report that details what the company is doing to promote "gun safety measures" and "produce safer gun and gun products."
According to an SEC filing, which is submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), here's what the group wants to see from Smith & Wesson:
Shareholders request the Board of Directors issue a report by February 8, 2019, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, on the company’s activities related to gun safety measures and the mitigation of harm associated with gun products, including the following (emphasis mine):
Shareholders request the Board of Directors issue a report by February 8, 2019, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, on the company’s activities related to gun safety measures and the mitigation of harm associated with gun products, including the following:
• Evidence of monitoring of violent events associated with products produced by the company.
• Efforts underway to research and produce safer guns and gun products.
• Assessment of the corporate reputational and financial risks related to gun violence in the U.S.

The resolution asks American Outdoor Brands Company (AOBC) to report on activities underway to mitigate the risks that its products may be misused in criminal acts of gun violence. Contrary to what the company suggests, AOBC has both the responsibility and capacity to play a more active role in how its products are used; the requested assessment and reporting are the first steps towards acceptance of this responsibility.  As a result of several high profile mass shootings in the past year, most recently the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, gun violence is increasingly being seen as a public health crisis with extraordinary human and financial costs.
Importantly, events of gun violence have led to mounting public backlash against gun makers and retailers including calls for boycotts, divestment and demands for gun safety regulation at both the federal and state levels. This environment presents serious business risks which demand a meaningful response from AOBC. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights make clear the corporate responsibility to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships, even if they have not contributed to those impacts.
AOBC has a responsibility to mitigate potential impacts through improved monitoring of its distribution and retail sales channels and enhanced reporting on research and development efforts to improve the safety features of its consumer products. The resolution does not request that AOBC produce smart guns or other specific products; nor does it call for the company to endorse a gun control regulatory or policy agenda. The resolution does, however, ask for reporting because existing disclosures of current risk mitigation measures are seen as insufficient for investors to assess their effectiveness.
The argument in favor of the proxy ballot vote:
Given recent events of gun violence, weapons manufacturers are facing an extraordinary climate of heightened and sustained scrutiny which may negatively impact their businesses if they do not take more meaningful efforts to mitigate risks.
James Debney, the President and CEO of American Outdoor Brands Corporation, the parent company of Smith & Wesson, the entire saga is a political ploy.

“Unlike a bonafide investor, this proponent purchased just 200 shares, the bare minimum needed under SEC rules to place an item on the proxy with the sole objective to push an anti-firearms agenda, designed to harm our company, disrupt the local sale of our products and destroy stockholder value,” Debney said Thursday during a conference call with investors, Guns.com reported. “This proponent will gladly sacrifice its investments and yours to achieve its political objectives.”
During his call, Debney said this report does absolutely nothing to improve community safety. He believes this is just a move by gun control advocates.

"We find it curious that the proponents of this proposal overlook our long-standing call for and involvement in actions that truly have meaningful impacts, such as greater vigilance in enforcing the laws and criminal penalties on the books, and the need to meaningfully address the role that mental illness plays in senseless violence,” he said. “In contrast, the proponents’ efforts appear to be more about their anti-gun agenda.”

Sturm, Ruger and Company went through a similar situation back in May where they were forced to prepare a similar report.
The coalition who purchased stocks in Smith & Wesson include:
• Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, U.S.-Ontario Province
• Adrian Dominican Sisters
• Catholic Health Initiatives
• Congregation of St. Joseph
• Daughters of Charity, Province of St Louise
• Mercy Health
• Mercy Investment Services
• Sisters of Bon Secours, USA
• Sisters of Providence, Mother Joseph Province
• Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
• Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet - St. Louis Province


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Catholic Priest Michael Pfleger and Thousands shut down Chicago highway with gun control march

Thousands of Chicago protesters shut down a major highway on Saturday to oppose gun violence and call for stronger gun laws.

After an hour-long standstill, police announced they were shutting down all northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway to allow protesters to march on the road.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police superintendent had voiced support for the protest, which was led by the Rev Michael Pfleger, the charismatic Catholic priest heading a largely African American church in one of the South Side neighborhoods hard-hit by gang violence.

Illinois state police have jurisdiction over the interstate, and had threatened to arrest anyone who stepped on to the entry ramp.

But protesters were allowed on to several lanes of highway on Saturday as corrections department buses waited alongside. Protestors chanted “shut it down.”

Pfleger, the Rev Jesse Jackson and Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were walking side-by-side among them.

 After long negotiations between police and march leaders, the protest was eventually allowed to take over the whole highway northbound and proceed.

Daniel Blalock, 35, said had been willing to get arrested if necessary: “I didn’t come here planning to go home. I want peace, just peace. It’s going to take a long time but this is the first step.”
Shortly before the march began, Illinois’s governor, Bruce Rauner, said that Pfleger and other organizers had agreed to limit their demonstration to the highway shoulder, without taking over the road. In a tweet, Pfleger called the assertion a “LIE” and said the protest would go on as planned.
Later in the day, Rauner called the shutdown “unacceptable.” The Republican said in a tweet Saturday that he was “disappointed” in Emanuel, and called on him to “take swift and decisive action to put an end to this kind of chaos.”

Emanuel responded in a tweet : “It was a peaceful protest. Delete your account.”

Protesters said they hoped the march would push public officials to pass stronger gun control laws and address the underlying causes of gun violence in Chicago.

“If Governor Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel can meet in secret to decide to give Amazon a billion dollars,” referring to officials’ attempts to lure the company to Chicago, “they can meet and decide to do something about not only gun violence but inequality,” said attorney Eric Martin White, 50, carrying an American flag.
I’m hoping that this is just a little spark that encourages people to continue to lift their voices and demand a redress of grievances,” he said.  Katherine Pisabaj, 19, wore a black halter top to the march to show the scar running down her stomach, where doctors operated after she was shot in the back on 25 February in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood, a hipster enclave that also sees gang violence. 

Her mother, Yolanda Segura, held a sign calling on President Trump to help Chicago. Pisabaj’s four young nephews joined them, sitting on the hot concrete of the highway as protesters waited for news of the lane closures. “This can’t be a shared experience any more, I don’t want my nephews to have to go through what I went through,” she said. “Now that young people are speaking up and getting involved, we have a lot more power. I don’t think this will be an issue my whole life, we’re going to make a change.”  Pisabaj, a college student planning to study nutrition science, said police found that a gang member had shot her in a case of mistaken identity. “It can happen to anyone of any age anywhere,” said Segura. “We need stronger laws on guns.”  Pfleger and his parishioners are calling for “commonsense” gun laws and for city and state officials to meet with them to talk about what they see as the root causes of the city’s notorious gun violence: poverty, lack of jobs, subpar or shuttered schools for largely African American residents on the city’s South and West sides.   Last year more than 3,000 people were shot in Chicago, more than 600 of them fatally.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ohio’s GOP legislators nix a 'sensible' gun-control law

They rejected the treasonous conspiracy against the 2nd amendment by a "broad coalition of students, teachers, school counselors, police chiefs, pediatricians and Catholic clergy demanding" gun control...

Source: http://www.vindy.com/news/2018/jun/21/ohios-gop-legislators-nix-a-sensible-gun/
Republican leaders in the Ohio House and Senate have largely ignored Republican Gov. John Kasich’s appeal for expedited action on his proposal to update the state’s gun laws.
But they will be hard-pressed to turn a deaf ear to a broad coalition of students, teachers, school counselors, police chiefs, pediatricians and Catholic clergy demanding a vote on the governor’s packages of reform.

Indeed, in a joint letter sent last week to state legislative leaders, the groups representing the police chiefs and others criticized the Ohio General Assembly’s seeming “lack of urgency” in updating Ohio’s gun laws.

There are companion bills in the House and Senate containing changes recommended by a bipartisan advisory panel convened by Kasich. The measures have been stalled since mid-April.
Two months ago, we suggested that Republican majorities in Congress and in the Ohio Legislature are dragging their feet on enacting sensible gun-control legislation because they fear the politically powerful National Rifle Association.

It is noteworthy that Republican President Donald J, Trump and Republican Gov. Kasich are pushing for changes to existing guns laws, but are unable to get GOP lawmakers to act.
In early March, Trump met with members of Congress from both parties and made it clear he would take on the NRA to get national gun-control legislation enacted.

Gov. Kasich, recognizing that this is an issue that crosses political lines, formed a bipartisan gun-policy advisory group after a sniper killed 58 people attending an open-air country music concert in Las Vegas.

Kasich is urging state lawmakers to adopt a package of reforms that would: take guns away from people at risk of hurting themselves or others; keep guns away from those convicted of domestic violence; facilitate gun-violence protection orders; close some gaps in the background check system; strengthen the law against “straw man” gun purchases; and ban bump stocks and armor-piercing ammunition.

Kasich’s reassurance

As we noted in the April editorial, the governor sought to reassure pro-gun advocates that the changes he was proposing to Ohio’s laws were limited in their scope.

“No one is interested in some slippery slope in trying to go and grab everyone’s guns,” Kasich said.
The bump-stocks prohibition is similar to the one President Trump has proposed.

But there’s a measure moving through the Ohio General Assembly that Kasich says he will not sign. The so-called “Stand Your Ground” bill, which has the support of pro-gun groups, would remove the requirement to try and retreat before taking lethal action.

The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association is opposed to the bill, saying it would make it harder to convict criminals.

The very fact that Republicans lawmakers consider this more important than the sensible, much-needed measure sought by the governor speaks volumes about their legislative priorities.
It’s time they received a reality check.

Here’s what the letter from the coalition urging legislative action on Kasich’s package of reforms said, in part:

“Within this past month alone, Americans have grieved for those killed or injured in three school massacres and our nation continues to average more than one shooting at a school per week. This issue is not going away and we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this violence won’t happen here – because it has. And it will again.”

There was a meeting Tuesday of House Republicans to judge the level of interest in moving forward with House Bill 585.

The legislation also would require that gun purchases be entered into the statewide law-enforcement database, something the governor has urged local agencies to do.

Before Tuesday’s GOP caucus, the measure, sponsored by Rep. Mike Henne of Clayton, had no co-sponsors and was languishing in committee.

Not much has changed today, which means the chances of passage are slim at best.
Here’s what House Speaker Ryan Smith of Bidwell had to say about the Kasich measure:
“That bill has frankly caused a lot of consternation with our caucus. It’s not to say that we’re insensitive to it or don’t want to do something on it, it’s just people are very protective of the Second Amendment.”

Such justification for inaction is a cop-out because there’s nothing Kasich has proposed that’s an assault on the Second Amendment.