2020 and Your Gun Rights - The Year in Review

While there is far too much to cover in a single article, we reflect on some of the important events of 2020.

January

Buckeye Firearms Association publishes its legal analysis of HB 354, stating that the bill creates a train wreck of problems for Ohioans and may be the single worst piece of legislation we have seen in a very long time.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty denies a request from Akron, Cleveland and four other Northeast Ohio cities to block an improvement to the statewide preemption law which gave individuals and groups the ability to seek remedy through the courts when the law was violated.

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee holds a hearing on Sen. Terry Johnson's SB 237 (Remove Duty to Retreat) as well as SB 182, a bill which seeks to prohibit military-aged adults less than 21 years of age from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Eric Trump attends a roundtable with the state's leading Second Amendment and sportsmen organizations. Attendees included Dean Rieck, Executive Director, representing Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA); BFA Vice President Linda Walker representing the NRA; BFA Sportsmen Leader Larry Moore, and Jim Irvine, Buckeye Firearms Foundation Chairman.

The Second Amendment sanctuary movement that has seen growth across the United States comes to Ohio in response to efforts to pass gun control laws in the Buckeye State, including Gov. Mike DeWine's SB 221, dubbed "STRONG Ohio." By the end of January, commissioners in Clermont, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, and Scioto counties, along with trustees in Perry County's Jackson Township, had declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries. Commissioners in Crawford, Muskingum, Pike, Preble, Ross and Vinton counties were also considering passing similar resolutions.

The Trump administration publishes rules that will be a boon to the United States firearms industry and all who utilize its products. The new regulations update America’s regulatory regime for the export of firearms, as well as related parts, components, and accessories.

The Buckeye Firearms Association PAC releases grades and endorsements for the 2020 Ohio primary election.

February

The House Criminal Justice Committee begins hearings on House Bill 178 (Constitutional Carry, Concealed Weapons License & Remove Duty to Notify) The bill seeks to, among other things, have Ohio join the growing number of states which allow "constitutional" carry, or lawful carry of a concealed firearm without a license. The bill has already been given eight hearings and been passed by the House Federalism Committee last year, after which House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) re-referred the bill back to another committee for further review.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a newly-minted "dark money" group trying to drum up support for Governor Mike DeWine's gun control bill, SB 221, has ties to the governor himself.

Former New York Mayor and anti-gun rights billionaire Michael Bloomberg unveils a massive presidential campaign staff that includes some of Ohio’s most notable Democratic consultants and strategists. His campaign suffers an early hit when racist anti-gun rights comments made by Bloomberg in 2015 resurface.

Buckeye Firearms Association testifies before the House Federalism Committee in support of HB 425 (Duty to Notify). The bill seeks to clarify when and how to notify law enforcement of a concealed handgun license to avoid confusion.

March

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who made an anti-gun platform the centerpiece of his short-lived presidential campaign, suspends his efforts to be the Democrats' nominee to take on President Trump in November.

Video of the Democrats' presidential front-runner, Joe Biden, putting his finger in a UAW worker's face and threatened him with physical violence goes viral. The worker had challenged Biden on his anti-gun rights policies.

Two local government entities (Tuscarawas County commissioners and the Lebanon City Council) move to take advantage of a Buckeye Firearms Association-backed bill, passed in late 2016, which allows the governing body of government buildings to enact “a statute, ordinance, or policy that permits a licensee to carry a concealed handgun into the building.”

The Oho Secretary of State's website postpones primary voting in Ohio due to a burgeoning health emergency. Many Second Amendment-related events scheduled for spring are also postponed or canceled.

An ordinance is passed in Champaign, IL, to empower the mayor to “[o]rder the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of … firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever” due to the pandemic-inspired economic shutdown.

Buckeye Firearms Association reports that some Ohio Sheriff offices are canceling appointments for Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs), temporarily suspending applications and renewals, or limiting hours for license processing due to health concerns about coronavirus. The situation varies from county to county.

Gun sales surge in many U.S. states, especially in those hit hardest by the coronavirus.

BFA receives commitments from House and Senate leadership and the administration to take action to postpone expiration of CHL licenses as the state continues to address the outbreak.

A stay-at-home order issued by the Ohio Department of Health specifically exempts retailers and suppliers that sell firearms and ammunition from the long list of businesses that have been ordered to close.

The Second Amendment Foundation files a federal lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Philip D. Murphy and State Police Supt. Patrick J. Callahan, asserting violation of civil rights under color of law by shutting down firearms dealerships in the Garden State, thus preventing citizens from exercising their rights under the Second and Fourteenth amendments.

House Bill 197, with an amendment to address Concealed Handgun License expirations, unanimously passes in the House and Senate and is signed by the Governor. The legislation extends the expiration date of Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenses for 90 days if the expiration falls during the state of emergency in Ohio.

Anti-gun politicians in many states and municipalities declare gun stores as "non-essential" and order them to close.

Ohio lawmakers pass legislation to extend Ohio's 2020 Primary Election through April 28, 2020, eliminate in-person voting for most people, and accept mail-in "absentee" ballots only.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Dick’s Sporting Goods will stop selling ALL guns at most of its stores starting this year.

Ohio-based Hi-Point Firearms announces "the difficult decision to shut down all operations, including accessory sales and repairs" in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

April

Buckeye Firearms Association postpones the 2020 Buckeye Bash due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

The NSSF-adjusted National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) figure of 2,375,525 marks an increase of 80.4 percent compared to the March 2019 NSSF-adjusted figure. This is by far the highest March recorded.

In response to the public health situation with COVID-19 and the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Stay at Home Order, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife temporarily suspends the sale of non-resident hunting and fishing licenses.

Madison Local School District officials announce that they intend to appeal a court decision which would require more than 700 hours of training before teachers and other employees could carry firearms in school.

Buckeye Firearms Association announces that 7 of the 12 sheriff's offices that suspended concealed handgun license processing have resumed processing licenses in some fashion. BFA sends letters and emails to the remaining 5 offices inquiring about their plans to re-start their license processing as set forth by Ohio law.

A memorandum from Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety emerges. The memorandum urges governors and mayors, despite the DHS guidance, to feel confident banning gun sales.

The Board of Directors of the Civilian Marksmanship Program announces the cancellation of the 2020 National Matches at Camp Perry.

The 2020 Primary Election finally ends, and the vast majority of Buckeye Firearms Association PAC endorsed candidates win their races. 26 total candidates received official endorsements. Out of these, 21 (or 81%) won their respective races.

A group of anti-gun U.S. Senators led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) seek to exploit COVID-19 to pursue their pre-existing gun control agenda, sending a letter to the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives demanding a crackdown on gun sales nationwide.

Meanwhile, a group of pro-gun Senators led by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and 18 of his pro-gun colleagues call upon the U.S. Treasury, Federal Reserve, and Small Business Administration (SBA) to protect law-abiding firearm businesses against political discrimination from banks and other financial institutions that administer the recently-enacted COVID-19 SBA loan programs

One of the most infamous gun control duos in the nation’s history teams up again as former president Barack Obama endorses his former vice president Joe Biden in the 2020 contest for the White House. Anti- gun rights former Senator Hillary Clinton also endorses the former vice president.

The U.S. Supreme Court takes yet another pass on deciding a case that could have helped to clarify proper Second Amendment analysis and bring defiant lower courts into line.

May

The FBI announces April 2020 set another record for background checks conducted through the National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS). The FBI NICS office conducted 2,911,128 background checks last month – a nearly 25% increase from the previous April, which had been the previous record high for the month of April.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ​shares his intent to demand that the U.S. provide Mexico with further information on Obama-era Operation Fast and Furious.

Personal safety concerns triggered by the pandemic make nationwide gun sales explode, with many gun dealers saying business is so busy they’ve had trouble maintaining inventory.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources website shuts down for over a week after malware is found on an agency server.

The BATFE releases its newest version of the Form 4473, which includes several changes from the previous version.

Madison Schools appeals a recent 12th District Court of Appeals ruling they must provide police-level training to armed staffers to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Democrat House members introduce three gun control bills.

HB 178 (Constitutional Carry), introduced in 2019 and passed out of one committee, begins hearings anew in the House Criminal Justice Committee. Buckeye Firearms Association testifies in support of the bill.

Hearings for HB 425 (Duty to Notify) continue in the House Federalism Committee.

Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA) testifies before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee in favor of SB 317, which seeks to exempt certain school employees, such as teachers or administrators, from peace officer training if the board of education or governing body of a school authorizes them to be armed in a school safety zone.

June

The FBI announces May 2020 background checks conducted through the National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS) jumped 75.2% over May 2019.

A poll of 1500 black Ohioans commissioned by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and supported by the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus Foundation finds that 53% of respondents agreed with protecting the right of citizens to own guns.

House Bill 425 (Duty to Notify) is passed out of the House Federalism Committee and taken up by the Ohio House. The bill passes 58-32 and is sent to the Senate for consideration.

When rioting comes to downtown Cleveland, owners of a family-owned Italian bakery named Corbo’s opt to provide their own protection, in the form of several heavily armed men.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court deals a serious blow to the future of Second Amendment litigation by rejecting nearly a dozen Second Amendment-related cases that it had been considering in conference.

Buckeye Firearms Association is forced to cancel the 2020 Buckeye Bash, which had been postponed due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

The U.S. Senate has passes the historic Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), which represents the single greatest commitment to increasing public access and advancing conservation in a lifetime, on a strong bipartisan vote of 73-25.

President Donald Trump’s 200th judicial nominee is confirmed.

July

In response to questions, from our members, Buckeye Firearms Association issues a legal analysis which states that "we are not aware of any law in Ohio that makes it illegal to possess, carry, or use a firearm while wearing a mask for health reasons."

The Ohio Supreme Court Ohio hears arguments on a joint BFF/OFCC challenge to Columbus bump stock ban.

Reports of long waiting lines to apply for or renew concealed handgun licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic continue to come in to Buckeye Firearms Association.

In the wake of eight shootings in Columbus, OH on the weekend of July 11-12, resulting in 10 people shot and three people dead, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther proposes to "solve" the problem by ban a firearm that wasn't used in a single one of the crimes.

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee continues hearings on SB 317 (School Safety). Everytown for Gun Safety, Ohio Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations hold an online press conference to denounce the bill and accuse the FASTER Saves Lives program of racism and Islamophobia.

A Freedom of Information Act request reveals the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence receives between $350,000 and $1 million in Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds on April 10 just weeks after the Brady PAC endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and announced it would spend $4 million to help elect him and other gun-control candidates to office.

Microsoft CEO and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, Steve Ballmer, donates $7 million dollars to Michael Bloomberg’s gun control umbrella group, Everytown for Gun Safety.

The draft 2020 Democratic Party Platform is released, and contains a full-throated assault on firearms ownership and a blueprint for undermining every aspect of Second Amendment rights.

The NRA-PVF endorses President Donald Trump for reelection.

August

Attorney General Dave Yost issues a report on a study his office conducted "to ensure that Ohio continues its 16-year record of carrying safely and responsibly." The report finds that of the nearly three-quarters of a million Ohioans who have a CHL, only 41 of them (0.006%) had been deemed to be mentally incompetent — which means they should not have had a concealed-handgun license or possessed a firearm. Of the 41, just six (.00085%) had occurred before the issuance of the license. The other 35 adjudications occurred after the issuance of the license, and would likely have been detected if the CHL-holder sought a renewal.

NSSF®, the trade association for the firearm industry, surveys likely voters in 18 election battleground states and learns that enforcing existing gun laws and protecting lawful firearms sales is on the forefront of voters’ minds.

The Ohio Supreme Court has agrees to review whether a southwest Ohio school district's plan to allow certain employees to carry concealed weapons complies with state law. The Ohio Supreme Court also votes to allow Madison schools to arm school staff when students return, even as they prepare to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling against the practice.

Reports say former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

President Donald Trump signs into law the Great American Outdoors Act, H.R. 1957.

The Buckeye Firearms Association PAC releases grades and endorsements for the 2020 Ohio general election.

In Duncan v. Becerra the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holds that California’s ban on the possession of “large capacity magazines”(LCMs) violates the Second Amendment.

Joe Biden's choice of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for the vice presidential slot cements the ticket as the most anti-Second Amendment in history.

A Buckeye Firearms Association survey shows ongoing problems with Ohio CHL renewals.

The Class C shotgun range and Class D archery ranges at Spring Valley Wildlife Area reopen to the public.

The official DNC platform, adopted at the Party's virtual convention, goes hard on the gun industry and lawful gun owners.

A new policy will allow Wright-Patterson Air Force Base personnel in Dayton, OH to request permission to transport licensed firearms to and from the base.

The Trump Administration announces a historic expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities that will open and expand over 850 hunting and fishing opportunities across more than 2.3 million acres at 147 national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries.

September

Linda Walker, BFA Board President and NRA Board of Directors member, is named to President Trump’s “Gun Owners for Trump” Advisory Board.

A Rasmussen Reports survey funds the recent surge in gun sales is not restricted along partisan, racial, or gender lines.

Retail survey-based estimates show that nearly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the very first time in 2020.

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee passes SB 317 (School Safety).

Senate President Larry Obhof introduces Senate Bill 360,which seeks to protect firearms dealers, barring public officials from prohibiting all federally licensed firearms dealers in the state or a specified geographic area from the commercial sale or transfer of firearms or their components or ammunition. As hearings begin, Buckeye Firearms Association testifies in support of the legislation. The bill is passed by the Senate 28-5 and sent to the House for consideration.

Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost files a brief in support of Madison Local School District's policy to arm school personnel.

The wave of increased gun sales that followed the government's response to a pandemic, and unrest in some cities, continues this summer. Background checks conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System in August 2020 show an increase of 51.2 percent compared to the August 2019 NSSF-adjusted NICS figure. The figure is the highest for any August in the NICS program's history and is the latest chapter in a surge in checks over most of this year.

Buckeye Firearms Association PAC announces its endorsement of Donald Trump for president.

House Bill 614, with an amendment to extend Concealed Handgun License (CHL) expiration dates, unanimously passes the Ohio Senate, passes the Ohio House 87-2, and is sent to the Governor to sign into law.

In the wake of the death of anti-Second Amendment Supreme Court Justice Rule Bader Ginsburg, President Trump nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to the United States Supreme Court.

October

Governor DeWine signs House Bill 614 , with an amendment to extend Concealed Handgun License (CHL) expiration dates. The bill includes an emergency provision, which means that the CHL extensions go into effect immediately. This brings desperately needed relief to thousands of Ohioans who face long wait times to apply for or renew licenses.

FBI crime statistics show that, for the third consecutive year, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased when compared with the previous year’s statistics.

The FBI releases NICS background check data for September, which set the record for the most checks ever for the month of September.

Asked repeatedly if a Biden-Harris administration would pack the Court should they win the election, the candidates refuse to answer.

Governor DeWine continues to hijack his coronavirus press conferences to press for passage of his SB 221 "STRONG Ohio" gun control bill.

Reports say former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is being considered for a Biden administration cabinet position.

The shooting range, featuring upgraded backstops and 65 rifle shooting stations, reopens at Spring Valley Wildlife Area.

The U.S. Senate confirms Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who is sworn into the U.S. Supreme Court by Justice Clarence Thomas in a White House ceremony. In her confirmation hearing, Judge Barrett had picked a Second Amendment case as her “most significant” ruling.

Guns & Ammo releases its "Best States for Concealed Carry 2020," revealing that despite overwhelming majorities of pro-gun Republicans in the House and Senate, Ohio (ranked 37th) is one of the states that has not continued to move the ball forward substantially.

Cleveland Councilman Basheer Jones issues a call to action to have 1,000 women obtain their concealed handgun licenses.

Rogue elements of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) continue their assault on certain types of commonly-owned semi-automatic pistols, developing a new interpretation of “handgun” that threatens to curtail the supply of foreign-manufactured pistols and could put many law-abiding gun owners in legal jeopardy.

November

In a hotly-contested election, the vast majority of BFA PAC endorsed candidates enjoy solid wins, with 83% of endorsed candidates winning their contests.

Bloomberg cronies working for the cities of Columbus and Dayton file lawsuits against the State of Ohio, alleging that the BCI gun background check system is ‘broken.’

Several Buckeye Firearms Association endorsees are elected by Senate Republicans to a majority of leadership positions for the 134th General Assembly, which convenes in January. Likewise the Ohio House majority elects a number of Buckeye Firearms Association endorsees to leadership positions for the upcoming session.

Rogue elements of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) continue their assault on certain types of commonly-owned semi-automatic pistols. According to the law firm Wiley, ATF has developed a new interpretation of “handgun” that threatens to curtail the supply of foreign-manufactured pistols and could put many law-abiding gun owners in legal jeopardy.

The Ohio Senate passes SB 317 (School Safety) on a vote of 21-11. The bill must still be considered in the House.

Senate President Larry Obhof, supported by a group of pro Second Amendment Senators, introduces Senate Bill 383, legislation to repeal Ohio's law which requires that someone who is in imminent fear for their life or a loved one's life to seek a retreat before using lethal force in self-defense.

A news media report reveals that no company has met the City of Toledo's two year-old policy which said it would only purchase firearms from "responsible" gun companies, and that even Mayor Kapszukiewicz is admitting his plan didn't work.

Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF), in cooperation with Ohioans for Concealed Carry, deals another blow to the City of Cincinnati over its improper regulation of "bump stocks," with an appellate court upholding the original Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas ruling which stated that the law violates Ohio's statewide preemption law.

December

The wave of increased gun sales that followed government's response to a pandemic and unrest in some cities continues in November following the supposed election of Joe Biden. The unadjusted figures of 1,949,141 mark an increase of 45.2 percent over 2019 - the previous record year.

Hearings on SB 383 (Duty to Retreat) begin in the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, and companion bill (HB 796) is introduced in the House. Buckeye Firearms Association testifies in support of the bills. SB 383 is first to clear committee, but the Ohio House is the first to pass a bill (52-31), as SB 175 is amended to include the Duty to Retreat language. The Ohio Senate also passes the bill 18-11 and sends it to Governor DeWine for consideration.

Ohio’s largest public shooting range, located at Delaware Wildlife Area in northern Delaware County, reopens after major enhancements and renovations are completed, including construction of a new indoor Archery Training Center.

The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee continues hearings for HB 425 (Duty to Notify).

23 year-old Ohio concealed handgun license (CHL)-holder Casey Goodson Jr. is shot to death by a Franklin County Sheriff's office SWAT deputy. Buckeye Firearms Association calls on the Second Amendment community to demand answers.

Lawmakers signal that Mike DeWine's gun control bill, Senate Bill 221, will be allowed to die at the end of the session.

The ATF publishes a document in the Federal Registry titled "Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with Stabilizing Braces," which lays the groundwork for restrictions on firearms with a stabilizing brace. The notice is soon rescinded. Based on information from inside sources, it appears likely that the bureau will wait until the next President is sworn in and take their cue from the new political appointees. They may decide to go through a more traditional rule-making process, which requires more time than simply issuing guidelines.

A divided ruling handed down by the Ohio Supreme Court on December 18 addressing the joint Buckeye Firearms Foundation (BFF) / Ohioans For Concealed Carry (OFCC) suit challenging the City of Columbus' ban on bump stocks and certain other devices marks a setback, but the fight is not over.

A bipartisan jobs and criminal justice reform bill, SB 140, passes the legislature and is sent to Governor DeWine for his consideration. SB 140 passed the Senate 32-1 previously and passes in the House 59-23.

In a 4-3 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court voted to uphold the conviction of a Clermont County man for holding a shotgun in his home while intoxicated, a ruling which threatens the right to bear arms in one's own home.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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