Senator Rob Portman responds to nagging anti-gun mayors group: Join me in supporting something that will work (or shut up)
by Chad D. Baus
After several expensive negative ad campaigns in Ohio failed to sway Sen. Rob Portman's firm support for the Second Amendment, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's and President Obama's gun control groups, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and Organizing for Action (OFA), have switched to using the free media. Every few weeks, the groups will stage a press conference or other media stunt designed to target Sen. Portman, knowing that their sycophants in the media will be there to offer plenty of free advertising...er, news coverage.
After the latest stunt last week in Cincinnati, and with another this week in Columbus, Sen. Portman appears to have heard enough nagging.
In a press release issued earlier this week, Portman issued a direct challenge to Bloomberg's mayors group:
Portman Urges Mayors to Support Reauthorization of His Legislation with Proven Record of Curbing Violence in Communities
"Helping reduce the gun violence wreaking havoc in some of our communities and among our families"
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) released the following statement:
"Both the families of the victims of the terrible tragedy in Newtown with whom I met and the authors of this legislation to expand background checks to more private sales have acknowledged that it would not have prevented the heartbreaking loss of life we saw in Newtown.
"Based on the Administration's own Justice Department statistics about how criminals obtain guns, we also know that legislation to expand background checks to private sales would have no meaningful impact on the unacceptable level of daily gun violence on the streets of Columbus and other places in Ohio.
"Rather than continuing to push for legislation that would place additional restrictions on law-abiding Ohioans and criminalize private sales, while doing little or nothing to address the true causes of violence, I urge city officials to instead work with me and others to seek solutions that will make a difference. This includes enforcement of current law, strengthening background checks by adding far better mental health records, and getting at the root cause of most gun violence by addressing the drug problem and gangs, and supporting prisoner reentry programs.
"Specifically, I hope those concerned about gun violence will support reauthorization this year of two laws I authored, the Second Chance Act and the Drug Free Communities Act, that are actually helping reduce the gun violence wreaking havoc in some of our communities and among our families."
Also this week, Portman's communications director, Jeff Sadosky, emailed reporters a list of statistics that he says make the senator's point rather starkly:
If those attending the Mayors Against Illegal Guns rally know...
That 1% of Ohio's adult prison population since 1974 is responsible for 57 percent of the state's violent felony convictions,
And that high rate violent offenders, those convicted of three or more unique violent crimes, were responsible for 33.2% of all violent crime convictions,
And those high rate violent offenders had an average of 7.4 arrests per offender and 6.4 criminal convictions in their collective criminal histories,
And the burden of violent crime is disproportionately concentrated in four Ohio counties (Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Summit, and Franklin), which accounted for 55.8% of all high rate violent offenders,
And that gang membership is on the rise (40% increase between 2009-2011) and that gangs are responsible for an average of half of the violent crime in most jurisdictions – with some as high as 90%,
And that the author of the Manchin-Toomey bill admitted it would have done nothing to prevent the tragic Newtown massacre,
And that only 2% of state prison inmates who owned a gun at the time of their offense bought it at either a flea market or gun show, but 40% got one through illegal means,
Then why would they be so focused on a law that its own author admitted would have done nothing instead of working with the author of the Second Chance Act, which directly attacks the repeat offender issue, to secure reauthorization of this vital program that is helping to cut the recidivism rate.
Putting it nicely, Portman is simply saying 'join me in supporting something that will actually work, rather than spending your energy trying to get me to support your gun control agenda, which we all know won't work.'
Or perhaps more succinctly, Portman is telling Bloomberg to either put up or shut up - to support legislation and initiatives he has proposed that could actually make a difference in the effort to solve the problem of gun violence and improve background checks, and to stop trying to politicize the deaths of children as an opportunity to pass your gun control agenda.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.