Ohio, Dayton-area lawmakers respond to Obama’s call for gun-law changes

In a sign of how emotional gun control has become, some Republican lawmakers Wednesday reacted cautiously to President Barack Obama’s call for a fresh ban on assault weapons and background checks for those wanting to buy a gun.

In statements and interviews, a number of Ohio Republicans declined to reject the president’s plan, which is expected to be popular with most voters. But no GOP lawmaker endorsed the plan, which is heatedly opposed by the National Rifle Association.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., said that House “committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations.’’ But Steel appeared to place the onus on the Senate when he said “if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that.’’

Thomas Crosson, a spokesman for Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, said “our first opportunity to make an assessment will come when the bill arrives on the House floor vote a vote.’’

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Cincinnati Republican who represents all of Warren County said he is “generally supportive of efforts to better secure our schools, put more police officers on the streets and address mental health issues in this country.” However, he disapproves of Obama issuing executive orders to change gun laws.

“I have serious concerns regarding many of the president’s gun control proposals. Further, I am disturbed the White House bypassed the American peoples’ elected representatives in Congress and implemented much of their agenda by executive order,” Chabot said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Obama is overlooking the root causes of senseless acts of violence and is not working “with Congress to develop a comprehensive plan to lessen the likelihood of these kinds of tragic incidents in the future. Unfortunately, however, it appears the President has chosen to act unilaterally wherever he can and focus on new, unproven gun bans which would undermine the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, called Obama’s plans “a little misdirected.’’

Stivers said that “to take away guns from people who don’t use guns to do bad things doesn’t do anything to keep bad things from happening.’’ But at the same time, Stivers said he has “less of a problem with universal background checks.’’

The most adamant opposition came from Republicans Jim Jordan of Urbana, Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, and Bill Johnson of Marietta, who said they oppose any effort to ban assault weapons.

Instead, Jordan said that “in finding ways to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and the mentally ill, we must protect the freedoms guaranteed’’ by the Constitution.

The most forceful support for Obama came from Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Brown hailed Obama for “taking long-overdue action on efforts that improve background checks, ensure more federal coordination, and improve school safety,’’ adding that “it’s time for Congress to renew the assault weapons ban,’’ which expired in 2005.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, who has had a strong rating from the NRA, posted on twitter that “it is imperative we do more to curb these tragedies.’’