2013: The Year Ahead

by Jim Irvine

We begin a new year and a new legislative session with many unknowns. This has the potential to be the best and the worst year gun owners have had in a generation. It is possible that we enjoy one extreme at the state level while enduring the other at the federal level.

We begin with Buckeye Firearms Foundation. For the first time, it is possible that our educational 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation could eclipse the PAC in what it accomplishes. The Foundation has announced that it will pay to train a pilot class of 24 teachers and other school personnel to safely carry firearms in schools as an added layer of security. That announcement has garnered significant media attention and over 800 applicants for the 24 initial spots.

Just because teachers are trained and qualified does not mean school boards will grant permission for them to carry guns in schools. Education and coordination with many local school boards will be required to make this program a success. Legislation may also be necessary.

Tactical Defense Institute is a great facility, but it is not possible for them to train every teacher. We need to plan additional classes, and find additional people and places to teach courses. We may need to coordinate with Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) to establish guidelines and recommendations for teacher training.

We could easily spend a million dollars in training and other school safety issues this year, but we don’t have that money yet. We will be reaching out to corporations and individuals to help raise the money needed to train teachers. The mission is not to run a class that gets some media attention, but to train our teachers and make our children safer. This will be a very time-consuming and costly endeavor, but our most precious resource demands that we leave no stone unturned as we seek to change the mindset of schools and give volunteers the tools and training necessary to do their jobs of educating our children in a safe environment.

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On the Buckeye Firearms Association (PAC) side, we see a varied playing field, with the state having great potential and Washington showing grave danger signs.

The Good

We are coming off a session where not one, not two, but three pro-gun bills were signed into law by Governor Kasich. The Governor and Speaker Batchelder remain in their respective leadership positions, while Keith Faber will be the new Senate President. All three men have proven to be supportive of restoring your rights, and there are good indications that they are willing to help further restore your rights this session.

Representative Terry Johnson returns to the House for his second session. His passion for our country and restoring our Constitution is a special gift to behold. He starts this session with the same passion he had two years ago, but with experience that will help him as he continues to be a leader in the Ohio House.

We have many freshman legislators who are chomping at the bit to help on Second Amendment legislation. I expect Lou Blessing and John Becker to be among the new legislators to garner attention this session. Committee Chairmen’s Ron Maag and Mark Wagoner return to their respective chambers. It remains to be seen if they stay in charge of their respective committees, but both of these individuals have been very helpful in the past year and we look forward to working with them moving forward.

Joe Uecker and Randy Gardner have moved from the House to the Senate. Both are staunch friends and we look forward to working with them in the Senate.

Like our country, our state government is full of people who support the right to keep and bear arms. Elections matter, and in Ohio we have a strong group this session. But it is always important to keep them informed on your views and help them understand how vital our issue is to their constituents.

The Bad

On a national level, the anti-gun groups are energized. They have been feeding off the attention given to them in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings, and the election of several anti-gun legislators at the federal level. Mayor Bloomberg and his so-called Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) will continue to be a threat as he works to impose his radical anti-freedom agenda on the rest of the country.

There are new and vocal calls to renew a so-called assault weapon ban, but make no mistake; this is nothing like the Clinton ban. This time they are looking to correct the “mistakes” made in that ban to ensure they don’t leave any "loopholes" for your semi-automatic hunting rifle, self-defense handgun, or even sporting shotgun. Every gun owner has something to fear from these bans, and every gun owner needs to be engaged.

The Ugly

President Obama was re-elected. With the help of Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton, he continues to lead the most hostile administration our cause has ever seen. Our rights hang by a one-vote margin in the United States Supreme Court, and Obama could appoint 2, 3, or even 4 justices in this next term. The Republicans lost seats in the Senate making it harder to block appointments, but losses like Lugar from Indiana could turn out to be a gain for gun owners.

It remains to be seen what threats the "executive privilege" pen might wield if Obama can’t pass drastic measures through the legislature. The normal checks and balances our forefathers envisioned seem to be as endangered as their thoughts on individual responsibility and limited government. It could be ugly on a level most refuse to even consider.

The Response

This is our country, and government works for us. We still hold the ultimate power, and we may need to band together as never before to defend against attacks on our rights.

Buckeye Firearms Association looks forward to new challenges and opportunities. We look forward to working with grassroots patriots to educate government officials from the local school board level up to the President on why our rights are important, and why gun owners are part of the solution to our problems.

Great challenges offer great opportunities to excel. With your support, we should be able to overcome any obstacle and have another great year.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman, the Buckeye Firearms Foundation President, and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award" and the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award."

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