Carl Paladino on Friday targeted Ohio Gov. John Kasich over a vote he made in Congress 22 years ago to ban 19 types of semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.
Paladino called Kasich “the Ohio version” of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“New York gun owners cannot trust John Kasich,” Paladino said during a news conference in Ellicott Square. “He will not be a president that we can trust with our guns.”
Paladino, who is backing Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, said Kasich cast a key vote in May 1994 when House members voted to approve the ban by a two-vote margin.
The Public Safety and Recreation Firearms Use Protection Act was part of a larger crime bill signed into law later in 2004 by President Bill Clinton, which has already become a controversial issue in the Democratic primary race for president.
Paladino, who was Cuomo’s Republican opponent in 2010, is decrying Kasich’s role in passing the legislation and contended language from the 1994 bill was copied as part of the New York SAFE ACT gun control law passed in 2013.
“When he was in Congress, he was no supporter of the Second Amendment,” Paladino said inside the Trump campaign’s local headquarters. “Today, when he wants to be president, he wants to go around the state and have you believe that he’s changed his stripes. Zebras don’t change their stripes.”
Joining Paladino on Friday was Stephen Aldstadt, CEO of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, a statewide gun rights group.
Aldstadt said the candidates’ positions on guns is important because the next president will likely pick Supreme Court nominees and the issue will be taken up by court.
“This is too important an issue to leave to a man like John Kasich, who does not respect the Second Amendment, does not respect the Bill of Rights and constitutional rights,” Aldstadt said.
He decried the SAFE Act as a law that turned hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens in the state into criminals.
Aldstadt said the majority of the wording in the SAFE Act is “basically identical” to the 1994 assault weapons ban Kasich supported.
That included terms like “high-capacity ammunition feeding devices” and “pistol grips” an other cosmetic features, Aldstadt said.
“All of those wordings from the 1994 assault weapon ban were repeated in the 2000 New York state assault weapon ban and again in the SAFE Act,” he said. “And when the SAFE Act was passed, they made it even more restrictive by going down to anything with even a single one of those features.”
The weapons ban bill passed the House 216 to 214. It was later included in a larger crime bill that passed the House in August 1994 by a 235-195 margin. That was the measure President Clinton signed into law.
Kasich voted in favor of both bills.
The more expansive crime bill also included other measures like additional funding for hiring police officers, the Violence Against Women Act and the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law targeting repeat offenders.
Kasich was one of 38 Republicans who supported the semiautomatic weapons ban in the May vote, compared with 137 Republicans who opposed it. In the overall crime bill vote in August 1994, Kasich was one of 46 Republicans who supported it.
Some Western New York Republicans joined Kasich in supporting the ban. Former Reps. Jack Quinn of Hamburg and Amory R. Houghton of Corning also supported the ban in both votes.
Following Kasich’s 1994 vote, the National Rifle Association soured on him. The NRA endorsed Kasich’s opponent in the 2010 race for Ohio governor.
But by the time Kasich ran again in 2014, he had the NRA’s backing again.
“I’ve come to learn that you can pass all the laws you want, but if they don’t work, there’s no reason to pass them if it doesn’t have an impact, if it doesn’t have an effect,” Kasich said earlier this year while campaigning in Iowa, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “Over time, you come to really begin to understand people’s deep, deep, deep commitment to the Second Amendment, and I share that.”
Paladino, a Buffalo developer and school board member, said Trump has been clear in his position on the Second Amendment and the New York billionaire appeared with him at SAFE Act protest in 2014 in Albany. “No other candidate for president has made such a clear statement to New York gun owners,” Paladino said.
Paladino said other candidates trailing Trump are saying whatever they have to in order to demonize him, he said.
“Donald Trump doesn’t lie. He tells the truth,” Paladino said. “I’ve known him for that and he takes great pleasure in being known as a truthful man of integrity and character.”
Paladino concluded the news conference saying “You can’t take the guns away from the people.”
Aldstadt added, “More importantly, you can’t take the rights away from the people.”
Kasich and Trump, along with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will compete in Tuesday’s state Republican primary.