Strickland's Past Positions on Guns Put Him in a Tough Spot

Strickland says his views on guns have changed in the wake of school shootings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama make moves on gun policy, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's past record on the issue has put him under scrutiny.  

When he was up for re-election in 2010, the Democrat was given an A-plus rating by the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him over Republican John Kasich, who got a B.  

"We don't give a lot A-pluses," said Catherine Mortensen, a spokeswoman for the NRA. Kasich would go on to defeat Strickland.  

In 1993, when Kasich and Strickland were both members of Congress, they voted against the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established a five-day waiting period for gun purchases and established a national background check. But while Strickland voted against the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, which prohibited the manufacture, transfer and possession of semi-automatic weapons; Kasich voted for it.  

When asked about this, a member of Strickland's campaign said the former governor's views changed after the deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, and pointed to previous statements Strickland made explaining the change.  

"He's been very clear his views changed following Sandy Hook," the staffer said, noting that Strickland was not in public office at the time, but at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a left-leaning organization.  

But the campaign of Strickland's opponent in this year's Democratic primary, Cincinnati City Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld, is not convinced  the change is sincere.  

"The last time he was on the ballot, Gov. Strickland bragged about voting against the very same background checks he claims to support," Sittenfeld spokesman Dale Butland said.  

Butland said people have mainly heard about Strickland's change in views from his staff, but not from him, though Strickland's campaign sent Roll Call an article from last year that referenced quotes Strickland made to the press about guns in 2012.  

The issue of guns has come to the forefront in the wake of President Barack Obama's executive actions on guns announced last week. In an op-ed, Obama said he would not support or campaign for any candidate, even those in his own party, who do not support changes to gun control.  

Strickland is not only facing heat from his left. Republicans are criticizing him on his change of heart on guns as he runs against incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman.  

"This latest flip-flop should come as no surprise to Ohio voters who have followed Strickland’s political career since the 90s," said Alleigh Marre, national press secretary for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "With a competitive primary against P.G. Sittenfeld, Strickland knows he needs to say whatever it takes to get elected."

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