Happy New Year - 2022 in Review
Buckeye Firearms Association is an award-winning organization, recognized throughout Ohio and across America as a leading gun rights advocate. We've been reforming Ohio's gun laws for nearly 20 years. And before that, many of our leaders had been Second Amendment advocates for decades.
We were the driving force for bringing concealed carry to Ohio so law-abiding citizens could defend themselves, introducing castle doctrine to give citizens greater protection in their homes and cars, establishing statewide preemption to prevent cities from passing their own patchwork of gun laws, closing the media access loophole to protect the privacy of concealed carry licensees, restoring the gun rights of armed service members and Ohio National Guard, passing landmark legislation to increase CCW reciprocity agreements and have a carry license substitute for a background check for gun purchases, pushing legislation to allow employees to store guns in their cars at work, and much more.
We've racked up an impressive array of legislative and legal accomplishments over the years. And in 2022, we continued our tradition of relentless advocacy on behalf of Ohio's four million gun owners.
This year began on a sad note with the loss of Rick Jones on Jan. 4. Rick was a founding member of BFA whose work for Second Amendment rights spanned a lifetime. A host of politicians, especially those in Southern Ohio, knew Rick as a tireless supporter who worked on dozens of campaigns to help elect good people to office.
On March 14, Gov. Mike DeWine signed BFA-backed Senate Bill 215, which brought "permitless" carry to Ohio. The new law went into effect on June 13 and made it legal to carry a concealed handgun without a license in Ohio, revoked the problematic "duty to inform" a police officer when carrying concealed, and removed the requirement to carry a license if you opt to obtain one.
This landmark legislation was years in the making, with BFA leading the way, and with a promise from the Governor that he would sign it if we could get it to his desk. We did and the Governor made good on his word. I spoke with BFA Legislative Affairs Director Rob Sexton on the Keep and Bear Radio podcast about how Ohio became the 23rd state to pass permitless or constitutional carry.
After passage of SB 215, we made a concerted effort over many months to educate gun owners on the details of the new law. Click here to see a Q&A article on permitless carry that was read by well over 56,000 people. I also discussed common questions about the law with attorney Sean Maloney on the Keep and Bear Radio podcast.
In April, we once again hosted Dave Grossman to present his Bulletproof Mind seminar to a packed house. After two years of closed events due to COVID restrictions, this gathering gave us the opportunity to once again see hundreds of our supporters face-to-face and raise funds for our political action committee.
In May, we sounded the alarm when the City of Columbus revealed a scheme to ignore Ohio's preemption law and regulate guns as a public health nuisance. Though this disingenuous idea appeared to be an act of desperation, we began taking action to head off any such scheme and in fairly short order, amended SB 185 to make it illegal to regulate firearms under the guise of an emergency or as a nuisance.
Pioneered by BFA and sponsored by Senator Tim Schaffer, SB 185 prevents state and local governments from infringing on Second Amendment rights and key hunting, fishing, and trapping activities during declared emergencies. It is the most powerful and comprehensive emergency powers bill of its kind in the United States. As of the publication of this article, we are awaiting the Governor's signature on SB 16, a bill into which SB 185 was amended.
Columbus remained quiet for a while, but later revealed a different scheme, claiming that they could pass local gun laws regardless of preemption or the status of their 3-year-old lawsuit against the state. A judge granted a stay in the case, but the city defied the judge's order and passed legislation anyway, including a ban on magazines that hold 30 or more rounds and mandatory firearm storage in the home.
After speaking with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost about this matter, the AG's office requested and was granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent Columbus' newly passed gun ordinances from taking effect. This is an ongoing issue which we will be dealing with into the new year with possible further action from the AG and a pending lawsuit against the city.
Later in May, BFA alerted grocery shoppers to bizarre and confusing signage that began appearing at Meijer stores shortly after passage of permitless carry. The signs displayed a blue "ghostbuster," showing a handgun with a line through it but without any text to explain the meaning. Upon being asked, management seemed confused about the signs, but eventually said they wanted to ban open carry in their stores. Since then, the large, prominent signs at some locations gravitated to the bottom of the doors among other signs and got smaller.
In June, Gov. DeWine signed BFA-supported HB 99 to return authority over school security programs to local school boards, including programs which allow teachers and staff to be armed. Sponsored by State Rep. Thomas Hall (R-Madison Twp.), this bill reverses an absurd ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that required school employees to receive the same training as police officers before they can carry a firearm in school even if approved by the local school district.
BFA worked to defeat H.R. 8167, a federal bill backed by Republicans who sought to repeal the Pittman-Robertson Act, an 85-year old law that funds countless programs in Ohio, and across America, for gun owners and sportsmen. In addition to coordinating efforts to defeat the bill with a variety of sportsman organizations, BFA leaders met with Warren Davidson, who represents Ohio's 8th district in Southwest Ohio, who pledged to remove his support. The bill died in the House.
In July, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed two bills to blatantly infringe the right to keep and bear arms. H.R.1808 sought to ban nearly all commonly owned semi-automatic firearms as well as magazines with a capacity of over 15 rounds. H.R. 2814 sought to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and encourage lawsuits against legitimate businesses for the criminal misuse of their products. BFA opposed both bills and coordinated an effort to deliver thousands of emails to Members of Congress and urge them to oppose such ill-conceived gun control. The first bill passed the House, but went no further. The second bill died before reaching the House floor.
Also in July, BFA was successful in helping a resident to persuade North Canton to remove illegal no gun signs in Price Park. Over the years, we've done the same in a variety of locations around Ohio, including Miami Township, Toledo, Marysville, and University Heights, among others.
In August, Senator Matt Dolan, sponsor of the failed SB 221 "Strong Ohio" gun control bill from the last legislative session, introduced SB 357, a new bill with some of the same unconstitutional ideas. It was essentially "Strong Ohio 2.0," a leaner version of his previous bill, featuring "safety protection orders" and "seller's protection certificates," as well as a new "co-signer requirement" for 18-21-year-olds to purchase firearms. BFA fought this bill, testified against it, and prevented it from moving beyond its committee where it is set to die on Dec. 31.
In September, BFA Leader Larry Moore attended the grand re-opening of Indian Creek Shooting Range and was honored to take the first shots along with WLW Big Outdoors host Chip Hart. For many years, Buckeye Firearms Association leaders have served on the Division of Wildlife Range Committee and have played a key role in the Sportsmen's Alliance "Protect What's Right" campaign to get millions of dollars into the Ohio budget for range upgrades around Ohio.
2022 also brought one of the craziest and most confusing election years in modern Ohio history, with ongoing disputes about election maps which spawned two separate primaries leading up to a general election. BFA PAC surveyed and researched hundreds of candidates and issued grades and endorsements for all three elections, a herculean and thankless task carried out by our all-volunteer Endorsement Committee.
A full 95% of BFA PAC-endorsed candidates won their primary election in August, with 10 out of 10 Senate endorsees winning and 48 out of 51 House endorsees winning. In November, this effort paid off by electing many 2A supporters to the Ohio House and Senate as well as to Statewide and other offices.
Throughout the year, we supported 16 separate bills to reduce firearm regulations and expand Second Amendment rights. This included frequently meeting with legislators, providing testimony, and aggressively advocating for key bills such as those already mentioned above, plus SB 156 for knife preemption, HB 297 to stop corporations seeking government contracts from discriminating against the firearm industry, and SB 265 and HB 471 to exempt firearms and ammunition from sales tax.
We monitored and pushed back on 16 separate gun control bills, including Democrat-sponsored legislation to reinstate the duty to retreat, enact extreme risk protection orders, mandate universal background checks, require firearms to be locked up, raise the firearm ownership age to 21, repeal statewide preemption, and ban bump stocks. None of these bills have moved an inch.
BFA and our partners drove more than 100,000 constituent messages to Ohio lawmakers in support of key legislation, including bills for permitless carry and armed teachers.
Our podcast, Keep and Bear Radio, continues to be highly popular and remains in the top 5% of all podcasts nationwide. Topics include in-depth reports on legislative efforts, discussions about media bias, interviews with political candidates, highlights from trending news stories, government infringements on Second Amendment rights, and more.
BFA leaders once again attended the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation, where America's most influential 2A organizations, writers, attorneys, and activists meet to share ideas and support gun rights efforts at the state and national level. Three years ago, SAF's sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, named Buckeye Firearms Association Organization of the Year.
BFA maintained a robust presence in the media discussing issues and educating the public throughout the state, around the U.S., and in countries worldwide. Our leaders served as the go-to source for firearms news commentary for nearly 700 newspapers, radio shows, and TV stations.
We continued to host OhioGunClass.org, a popular online directory that helps more than 300 instructors promote their services and lets gun owners search for gun and self-defense classes by keyword or location.
Buckeye Firearms Foundation manned a booth at the Ohio School Boards Association trade show to educate teachers, education administrators, and decision-makers from around the state about the groundbreaking FASTER Saves Lives program, which provides training for active killer response and emergency medical aid.
The Foundation also sponsored two youth shoots, one in the Spring and the other in the Fall, to promote the shooting sports and provide healthy activities for hundreds of Ohio's young men and women.
BFA ran a dozen high-quality firearms training classes to educate Ohioans on concealed carry, tactical rifle, street defense, fighting in structures, low light encounters, and other vital topics.
The Foundation hosted its annual Buckeye Blast fundraising shoot at Tactical Defense Institute, giving more than 60 participants the opportunity to experience IDPA competition in one of the country's top training facilities.
BFA continued its work as co-founder of Life Side Ohio, a non-partisan suicide awareness and prevention initiative, partnering with the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, along with gun stores and ranges.
BFA also continued its partnership with the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to distribute free firearm lock boxes to parents of young children.
And this barely scratches the surface. We are at work every day, in every part of the state, relentlessly fighting to protect and advance your Second Amendment rights. To get a better idea of what we do during a typical year, take a look at this detailed summary from 2018.
And we'll continue our work next year. Our Legislative Committee has already held a meeting to discuss priorities for the 2023-2024 legislative session. And we're scheduling meetings with leadership in the Ohio House and Senate so we're ready to hit the ground running in January, 2023, to begin the 135th General Assembly.
If you'd like to play a part in that, and all our other work, please consider donating or becoming a paid member. Even small, recurring donations of $5 or $10 a month, are a big help in funding our ongoing work. We're also starting to plan next year's events and training classes, and hope you can attend.
From your BFA friends, Happy New Year!
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.