Anti-gun Ohio newspaper editorial board member embraces "denial" like a baby does his "binky"
- The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
by Ken Hanson, Esq.
In a May 30, 2010 column, Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board member and columnist Thomas Suddes says, "Just hand Ohio to the gun nuts and get it over with." While I would like to oblige him, despite his pejorative labeling of me as a "nut," the political realities reduce me instead to responding to his op-ed.
Mr. Suddes is presenting to us a severe case of denial. Denial is a coping mechanism employed by individuals to avoid dealing with painful realities, and Suddes is owning it. Ensconced within the Ivory Towers of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Suddes has peered out his window at the hoi polloi in the Ohio Senate and clucked his tongue over passage of Senate Bills 239 and 247.
HOW DARE THEY?
So, putting pen to paper, Suddes has written what I am sure he intended to be a scathing indictment of the Senators, who in Suddes' view either swoon with admiration or tremble with fear when the mighty gun lobby roams the halls of the legislature. In Suddes' world, the legislators stand ready to vote when and how they are told to vote, and keep their mouths shut so that the briefcases of campaign cash keep flowing. As an anti-gun opinion piece, Suddes' work is a museum-quality specimen.
Suddes trots out all the usual suspects: The gun lobby's huckster, the sinister campaign contributions, the neglected police lobby striving only to keep their officers safe, the insatiable gun rights supporter and (a failed attempt to) appeal to ridicule. Having assembled his rogue's gallery, Suddes proceeds to lambast gun owners in the manner so beloved by his fellow journalism professors, fellow editorial board members, columnists and at least two or three ordinary citizens.
Having spent the better part of last week in the State House, I found Suddes' piece greatly entertaining, and I think I will load it onto my Kindle to help cheer me up when I am feeling blue. I am being sincere when I say that; the picture that he paints is so far removed from the reality on the ground that I take great pleasure in seeing just how out of touch our enemies are. It brings me genuine joy reading about the bogeyman the intelligentsia conjure forth to explain their own lack of success in the marketplace of opinion.
Suddes presents a picture of high-priced mouth pieces flying in on private jets, toting suitcases full of cash (one of Toby Hoover's beloved images), putting the hammer on every legislator within reach. In one of the TV interviews I did last week, the reporter asked my opinion on what passage of Senate Bills 239 and 247 said about the "power of the gun lobby."
Well, there were a few volunteers downtown, those of us who could take time off from our "real jobs" anyway. I personally had to exhaust my suitcase of cash paying the $11 per day in parking fees that I ran up while spending 10+ hours in the Capitol on three different days. But the lobbying effort consisted of three or four citizen volunteers and a whole lot of cell phone minutes. That and 400,000-some Ohio gun owners sporadically making lobbying calls.
Don't get me wrong; there were several paid lobbyists running around downtown, lobbying on these bills. Suddes' problem is that the professional, paid lobbyists were working for Suddes' side, not the gun owners' side. The pros were lobbying against the bills on behalf of law enforcement groups. The rest of us were trying to keep up with our "real jobs" in between lobbying meetings and phone calls. I personally toted a commercial contract around for the whole day Thursday, hoping to get it at least partially reviewed for a client so I wouldn't have to do it all that night after the kids went to bed. I made it through about 5 pages.
The picture Suddes paints is necessary to those in the media who are opposed to gun rights. It is their coping mechanism. It is their form of denial.
Surely there is a heroic, full-time lobbying force equipped with endless cash and Jedi mind powers deployed to thwart our anti-gun editorial stances. That can be the only logical explanation for the legislators ignoring our learned opinions on the inherent evil of guns. This must be the case! Repeat it and make it a mantra so that it is true simply through force of will. If only there weren't this overwhelming, scheming, dirty tricks force of nature working on behalf of gun owners, surely our editorial positions would be adopted.
The editors need Suddes' imaginary world to be reality in order to explain away gun owners' victory after victory. Only through lavish expenditures of cash, dirty tricks and nefarious threats could gun owners obtain these overwhelming vote totals (unanimous, 2/3, 3/4) rejecting their editorial positions. Anti-gun activists need this reality like a baby needs his "binky" to get to sleep – it is only through the existence of the all-powerful bogeyman that they can explain away their losses.
The only alternative explanation is that they, not we, are out of touch with reality, and these pro-gun vote results accurately reflect opinion and political reality in Ohio. The antis need the bogeyman, because if the bogeyman does not exist, then their anti-gun viewpoints have been considered and discarded as invalid, and that is too horrible for the antis to comprehend.
Below is a copy of an email I sent to Suddes.
I was one of the three pro-gun "lobbyists" downtown in the past three weeks (and over the past 6 years). I would dearly love to be a "big fee...huckster" but, alas, over the past 6 years, despite having spent several hundred hours lobbying for the cause, my total fee has been $zero. During that same 6 year period, one professional, paid lobbyist for gun owners has been downtown infrequently (3-4 times per legislative session), and he is an NRA employee who is split between 5 states and several different programs.
The only groups with paid lobbyists downtown the last three weeks were the FOP, BSSA, OACP, OPAA and the Cleveland Patrolman's association. These professional lobbyists are paid for by tax dollars that are funneled to these lobbyists via mandatory union dues withholdings, or organization membership fees paid by Sheriffs and Prosecutors from their general operating fund or furtherance of justice fund.
While I am not privy to how much the police groups made in campaign donations during the last three weeks, for our side it was $zero. Since I spent over 30 hours downtown in May, I *AM* privy to who was peddling the fear you refer to below: It was those testifying against these bills who were pushing the fear button, just as it is you who continue to push fear with your opening sentence.
Since my first practicing days as an assistant prosecutor, I have a personal policy of ignoring editorials or LTEs. However, I thought it might make you feel even more frustrated knowing that the people who are defying editorial boards and the tax-funded lobbyists are amateur volunteers who are taking time of from their jobs as Realtor, IT support, airline pilot and small town attorney to work for the cause pro-bono, paying our expenses out of our own pockets.
You might also find interesting the two campaign donation reports I attach, which I downloaded from the Ohio Secretary of State's website. NRA's campaign donations don't hold a candle to the FOP donations.
Mr. Suddes, your op-ed sets forth one conclusion that could be drawn from the events of the past 5 months and past 6 years. But in looking objectively at who is doing the paid versus volunteer work downtown, the money being donated to politicians, and the ratio of the majority votes in favor of personal liberty being cast downtown (HB 347 only veto override in Ohio in 30+ years and counting, unanimous and 3/4 on SB 184, 2/3 on SB 239/247), I might humbly suggest that it is the editorial boards and the FOP that have lost touch with reality.
No amount of "power lobbying" is going to get that large of a measure of support over the objection of the majority of Buckeyes, nor are the large majorities going to be obtained without the support of the majority of Buckeyes.
Fortunate for us indeed that elected officials tend to reflect the views of their constituents versus those of newspapers and the political leadership of a labor union.
L. Kenneth Hanson Esq.
Firestone, Brehm, Hanson,
Wolf and Burchinal LLP
15 West Winter Street
Delaware, Ohio 43015
Ken Hanson is a gun rights attorney in Ohio. He serves as the Legislative Chair for Buckeye Firearms Association, and is the attorney of record for Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court cases. In 2008, the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) awarded him with its Defender of Justice Award. He is the author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws, a certified firearms instructor and holds a Type 01 Federal Firearms License.
[UPDATE: Letter to the Editor - Suddes and 'gun nuts': Whom is he labeling?