Democrat gubernatorial candidate promotes banning private transfers of firearms
Ohio Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald's campaign is on the rocks. So much so that last week, just 90 days before the election, typically Democrat-friendly Ohio media outlets like the Cleveland Plain Dealer began openly questioning whether FitzGerald should bow out of the race.
The campaign train-wreck started at least as far back in November of 2013, with FitzGerald's choice of 2010 BFA PAC "D"-rated candidate Eric Kearney to be his running mate, only to have to reverse course when it was discovered that Kearney, his wife and their business owe more than $1 million in back taxes.
A few weeks ago, a poll found that fewer Ohio voters knew enough about who FitzGerald was to have an opinion in July than in May. That's right - people actually seem to be forgetting what little they knew about him as the election approaches.
A recent spate of media coverage may mean the next round of polls will find that more voters recognize his name, but it is highly unlikely that will help much. That's because the media coverage has surrounded a 2012 police report which revealed FitzGerald had been found by police in a parked car, with a women other than his wife, at 4:30 a.m. To make matters more interesting, it was discovered that Fitzgerald had been driving on a learner's permit that night, and must have broken the law by driving alone after he says he dropped off the woman at her hotel. In fact, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "from 2002 until shortly after that parking lot encounter, he either had no driver's license at all or a temporary permit, which allows the holder to drive only with a licensed driver in the car."
FitzGerald hasn't made much news that pertains to gun owners in this election cycle, and his position on the issue of gun rights has been as hard to pin down as the reason why he went a decade without a big boy driver's license, or what was really going on in that parked car.
Thanks to a question asked at a Q & A with Oberlin College Democrats earlier this year, and to the person who recorded it and recently sent a copy to me, however, we now have some insight into Fitzgerald's mindset on the issue of gun control.
Click here to listen to the audio. A transcript of the exchange follows:
Question: As I'm sure you're aware, firearms have been a huge issue both in the State of Ohio and right here at home in Oberlin, and uh, as I'm sure you know, uh, it's, uh, very easy to get a concealed carry permit and there's no requirement for open carry and I was wondering what specific policy changes you would make to our, our gun laws here in Ohio.
FitzGerald: Yeah, the, the only thing that I propose at this point is that, um, I do believe in background checks. I think there should be universal background checks. And I, I think we get bad public policy any time any in-interest group has so much political influence that you don't have, end up having a real dialogue, ah, that leads to rational policy. 90% of people, roughly, in Ohio think that there should be, uh, mandatory background checks. Um, it's something like, I want to say between 70, around 70%-plus of gun owners think that there should be, uh, mandatory background checks. Uh, and I believe in that. You know, I used to, when I was a law enforcement officer, uh, I carried a weapon. I understand the responsibility that's involved with it, and to me the idea that somebody has a history of violence or has a mental condition that would suggest that they should not carry a weapon, to me, is frightening. And that to me is, is the absolute, basic ground floor, and we haven't even gotten that far.
FitzGerald went on to cite Ohio Governor John Kasich's history on the issue of gun rights, before concluding with this:
FitzGerald: I think that in terms of moving the discussion and debate forward, we could at least find some common ground and talk about universal background checks.
I wish I had been there to ask a few follow-up questions.
But it's not too late.
Following are a few open questions for candidate Fitzgerald, who is so obviously hoping to talk about something else besides his late-night parking habits and lack of a driver's license that he is sending out emails reminding people that his son is (still) cancer free.
Mr. FitzGerald: In June, while addressing a group of Colorado sheriffs, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper spoke on the topic of the state's universal background check law, which outlaws almost all private transfers of firearms. According to the Denver Post, Hickenlooper told the sheriffs, "I think we screwed that up completely... we were forming legislation without basic facts." Are you aware of Colorado's failed experience universal background checks, and do you think you have more "basic facts" about this than Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado legislature?
Mr. FitzGerald: In early 2013, polling in Ohio by Quinnipiac tracked a drop from 90% support to 78% support for universal background checks in just three months before they stopped asking the question. Additionally, 80% of law enforcement officers polled by PoliceOne.com said that more background checks will have zero effect. Also in early 2013, a national survey conducted by OnMessage Inc. found that 92% of NRA members opposed a federal bill that sought to ban the sale of firearms between private citizens. When that bill failed, a national survey by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post conducted around that same time found that 39% of Americans were either very happy or relieved. In October of 2013 a Cincinnati.com online poll found that only 5.63% of respondents supported HB 137, a universal background check bill that is pending in Ohio, and that by January 2014 a Reason-Rupe poll found that only 40% of Americans believed that extension of "universal background checks" to private transactions at gun shows are necessary. Why were you still claiming in February 2014 that 90% of people in Ohio think there should be a law outlawing private transfers of firearms, and why are you advocating a proposal that the vast majority of law enforcement agree won't help prevent crime?
Mr. FitzGerard: Former Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) executive director Mark Glaze recently admitted to the Wall Street Journal that “It is a messaging problem” for gun control supporters “when a mass shooting happens and nothing that we have to offer would have stopped that mass shooting." When even the former head of billionaire Michael Bloomberg's gun control group admits that universal background checks can't stop these types of crimes, why are you still pushing for it?
Mr. FitzGerald: A 2006 FBI study of criminals who attacked law enforcement officers found that within their sample, "None of the [attackers'] rifles, shotguns, or handguns … were obtained from gun shows or related activities." Ninety-seven percent of guns in the study were obtained illegally, and the assailants interviewed had nothing but contempt for gun laws. As one offender put it, "[T]he 8,000 new gun laws would have made absolutely [no difference], whatsoever, about me getting a gun. … I never went into a gun store or to a gun show or to a pawn shop or anyplace else where firearms are legally bought and sold." You were employed as an FBI agent for a short time in the 1990s. Why do you support a bill that the FBI's own research shows would not stop criminals from obtaining guns?
I don't expect to get an answer from FitzGerald to my questions. Nor has he bothered to submit a candidate survey to BFA PAC for consideration as we prepare to issue grades and endorsements for the 2014 general election. But he spoke to the Oberlin College Democrats, and now we know.
If Ed FitzGerald has his way, and you want to give a gun to your great-grandson, you must ask the government's permission.
Want to sell a gun to your brother? Ask the government's permission.
Want to sell a gun to a hunting buddy? Ask the government's permission.
What to bring a gun to a friend's house to show her how it operates because she is considering buying one herself? Ask the government's permission.
Want to loan a gun to a friend whose abusive ex-husband just found out where she lives? Ask the government's permission.
Want to clean a friend's slug gun in deer camp? Ask the government's permission.
Want to know what other gun control laws he would impose on law-abiding Ohioans? Ask Ed Fitzgerald.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.