2015 - The Year Ahead

Every year I do one of these stories, so this year is no different. Except that it is. Normally it’s pretty easy for me to forecast broadly what will happen legislatively because we are always working with people and know what is planned. But this year could go in so many different directions, that this is much more of a guess than in prior years. With that disclaimer, here is what I see happening in 2015.

Fewer guns bills will be introduced in Ohio. Neither the pro-gun, nor the anti-gun side will submit as many bills this session, but a higher percentage of bills will pass. Both sides will put an emphasis on getting something meaningful done, rather than just introducing dream bills that will not go anywhere.

The 2016 presidential field will start taking shape, and Ohio will be in the discussion. It is no secret that more governors have been elected President than Senators, and Governor Jeb Bush has announced he is exploring entering the race. Anyone forming an “exploratory committee” has either been planning their presidential run for years, or they are years behind and probably don’t have a chance. I predict that Ohio Governor John Kasich will announce his candidacy in 2015. He was just re-elected by almost 31 points in a “toss up” state, even winning the Democratic counties of Cuyahoga and Mahoning. No Republican has ever won the White House without taking Ohio, and the GOP needs someone who can win here. Add in Kasich’s time in Congress and in private industry, and you have a very well-rounded candidate that is hugely popular in a must-win state.

Which brings us back to legislation in Ohio. Typically, candidates running for higher office move toward the center and want to avoid controversial bills. So will Governor Kasich sign major pro-gun legislation while campaigning for President? Will he choose a “play it safe” strategy like Dole, McCain and Romney? Or will he be a bold leader like Reagan? That is a big unknown. Representative Anne Gonzales (R) has already talked with the governor’s office and will be re-introducing her bill to modify the rules for concealed carry in school zones. Representative Terry Johnson (R) and Senator Joe Uecker (R) both did heavy lifting last session but neither got to count a gun bill as signed. Both are looking to complete that mission this session. And of course there are numerous other legislators interested in moving firearms legislation. It’s sure to have some frustrations, but I expect to be able to prove wrong those who say we will not make any progress this session.

The national scene is shaping up to be an interesting dynamic. Despite enormous progress at the state level, and in the courts, it’s been a long time since significant firearms legislation passed nationally. Republicans now control both chambers and should present the president with many bills that he will not like. They should present the president with legislation granting our military members the right to be armed. This includes in their housing, on base, and on leave. When the same background check is required to buy a handgun, rifle or shotgun, there is no reason why one can buy rifles and shotguns across state lines, but not handguns. Knowing mass killings are more likely in places where concealed carry is banned, Congress should eliminate such laws, starting with the U.S. post office. They should modify or repeal the Lautenberg amendment. Now that concealed carry is the law in all 50 states, any license issued by any state should be valid in all of the United States, including D.C. I predict we will see some interesting battles on these issues, with at least one of them becoming law. Will pro-gun Democrats fight for your rights or side with an unpopular lame duck president who hates your Constitutional rights? If they are really pro-freedom, you might see President Obama’s veto overridden a few times.

The courts will undoubtedly provide some surprises, both good and bad. Will the U.S. Supreme Court take up another gun case? Will “may issue” (discriminatory) laws be ruled unconstitutional and force states like California, New York and New Jersey to issue concealed handgun licenses to their citizens? Court cases take years to play out, so it’s impossible to say what results we will get this year, but they are always important.

I’ll conclude with an easy prediction. Buckeye Firearms Foundation's FASTER (Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) program will grow. More schools will choose to authorize their staff to carry the tools necessary to protect their kids. John Benner and Chris Cerino will provide more world class training. Buckeye Firearms Foundation will pay for training and lodging totaling over $100,000 this year.

What will be new this year is that schools that have not seriously considered arming staff before will select people for training and authorize them. The idea of armed staff will move from a “gun thing” to a “safety thing” even in the minds of educators who are uncomfortable with firearms. They will do this because children are universally liked, and we as a nation have grown sick of leaving our children defenseless for killers to prey upon.

No matter what direction the political winds blow, count on Buckeye Firearms Association to keep you up to date.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association President, BFA PAC Chairman 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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