Exposed: The Buckeye State's Anti-Gun Puppetmaster

How Ohio's Gun Ban Extremists Try to Create the Illusion of Public Support for Gun Control

In just a few short weeks, it'll be that time again. Time for a new self-defense bill to begin hearings before the Ohio General Assembly. Time for the anti-gun media to begin crying foul about any attempt to limit their access to CHL-holders' private information. Time for Ohio's resident gun ban extremist, Mrs. Toby (Edward L.) Hoover, to entertain legislators with wild predictions about what will happen if House Bill 347 becomes law.

Hoover has been at this game for years, and sadly, too many legislators have responded to her rhetoric (repeated ever so willingly by the establishment media) by weakening Ohio's concealed carry law with amendments, and refusing to commit override threatened gubernatorial vetos.

Buckeye Firearms Association wants to make sure that this time around, Ohio's legislators know the truth about Hoover's Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (OCAGV), which as University of Toledo Professor Brian Patrick has put it, "appears to have no tangible, mass membership at all--even though it claims to speak for millions."

Last August, I pulled back the curtain on the gun grabbers' Wizard of Toledo, exposing how Hoover pays herself a generous salary (plus expenses) and receives exorbitant grants from the ultra-liberal Joyce Foundation, and revealing Hoover's strategy to prop up an image of an abstract anti-gun "public" in the minds of the press and legislators where in fact no such public exists.

On the subject of the latter, I would now like to turn attention on the tactics Hoover has used to manipulated legislators and the media without ever having to speak to or even have them know she was involved.

In addition to the Internal Revenue Service tax records examined previously, Buckeye Firearms Association has obtained OCAGV's original Articles of Incorporation. An examination of all these OCAGV records has provided extraordinary insight into how Hoover pulls the strings to put on a show for both the media and legislators.

Her cast of characters includes:

  • The Professor

Among the original Trustees for OCAGV is Howard M. Friedman, a University of Toledo law professor who maintains a blog focused on the separation of church & state.

Friedman was listed as the Vice President of OCAGV in 2003. Yet during a 2003 court challenge against Ohio's century-old ban on concealed carry, when Friedman signed on with a group of anti-gunners who urged the Ohio Supreme Court to reverse two unanimous lower courts in Klein v. Leis et. al (which it eventually did), Friedman did not identify himself as an OCAGV Board member, but instead used his UT law professor title.

Similarily, back in 2001, Friedman testified against House Bill 274 (a concealed carry bill that came extremely close to becoming law) on behalf of the United Jewish Council of Greater Toledo. See below for how his comments were used in a Columbus Dispatch article covering testimony at the hearing.

  • The Clergyman

​​​​​​​Readers of my August article will recall that OCAGV's first partial year of operations was 2002, and first full year of operations was 2003. Before that, Hoover was accepting grants as an anti-gun lobbyist under a non-profit entity called Toledo Metropolitan Ministries, (Toledo Ecumenical Area Ministries) which does business out of the same address as OCAGV - 444 Floyd St. TMM-TEAM describes itself as "a social justice ministry of seven denominations working ecumenically to identify needs for systemic changes, to plan and develop strategies and initiate projects to advocate justice and empower people." In 2001, Toby Hoover was listed as a Trustee of TMM-TEAM, and as noted previously the incestuous ties are deep and wide.

Consider Rev. Martin Donnelly, an activist clergyman from Toledo known for vocal opposition to the War on Terror, whose brother is also a TMM-TEAM Board member. Donnelly was first listed as President of OCAGV in 2003, and carried that title into 2005. Back in 2001 though, Donnelly testified against House Bill 274 on behalf of the Interracial Religious Coalition (IRC). Like Hoover's OCAGV, Internal Revenue Service records show the IRC received support from TMM-TEAM in 2001. OCAGV's website states that it "was initiated in 1995 by the Interracial Religious Coalition of Toledo, Ohio (IRC) because of their concern about gun violence in our community."

Yet not a word about these obvious ties between Friedman, Donnelly and Hoover was revealed in a story the Columbus Dispatch published after all three testified before a House committee in opposition to HB274...

The following press account is one of several I will use to reveal how Toby Hoover is able to use a willing media to create the image of a larger community of opposition to concealed carry by hiding details on people who are affiliated with her organization.

Before we get into a more recent example of this type of puppetry, consider an interview I had with University of Toledo Professor Brian Patrick an interview last summer regarding Hoover's media tactics.

"One of the things that Hoover does well is function as a press contact," Patrick observed, before citing J.M. Sproule's Propaganda and Democracy. "Sproul has an interesting discussion of these abstract publics--made up by interpreting attitudinal survey data and constructing these interpretations as a "public" when in fact no such public may exist. My impression is that the [OCAGV] is made up of several religious/neighborhood organizations that are similar in make up--a small paid professional staff that claims to speak for an abstract, invisible public. It's a social work missionary model. Overall the coalition seems a top-down affair, functioning more or less in the model of missionary or social work, than any kind of mass membership grassroots citizens group."

As my subsequent investigation has revealed, Patrick could not have had it more on point.

Examples of Hoover's ability to manufacturer the image of an anti-gun "public" doesn't stop with examples related to HB274. For a more recent example of how she worked the puppets when opposing House Bill 12 (the bill that eventually became Ohio's concealed carry law), take a look at yet another character.

Thursday, July 12, 2001

The House concealed gun measure takes fire from all sides

By Dan Williamson
Capitolgate Statehouse Reporter

After listening to hours of testimony yesterday afternoon in the House subcommittee on concealed weapons, at least one thing was clear: God is opposed to House Bill 274.

What isn't clear-and it's a fairly significant point-is whether the Almighty opposes the bill because it is excessively restrictive toward gun owners, or because people shouldn't be carrying concealed weapons in the first place.

Addressing the concealed-carry panel from the left were religious figures such as Rev. Martin Donnelly of the Interracial Religious Coalition of Toledo and Howard Friedman of the United Jewish Council of Greater Toledo. They said that allowing Ohioans to carry concealed weapons would lead to an increase in fear and violence.


Toby Hoover, director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, delivered an emotional-and lengthy-testimony to the committee. Hoover said Ohioans who want to carry guns should do so out in the open, as is allowed by current law.

"We want the choice not to share the same space as people who are armed," she said.


A little before 5 p.m., Friedman of the Jewish council made a reference in his testimony to a situation in which a community center was "sprayed with gunfire."

  • The Doctor

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Dr. Jonathan Groner, the trauma medical director at Children’s Hospital and a member of the Ohio State University Division of Pediatric Surgery, often talks to the media about firearms without ever divulging his status as a board member for an anti-gun organization.

During debate on HB274 in 2001, Groner was quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer as having staged a protest against concealed carry:

OCAGV's first full year of operations was 2003, and according to forms obtained from the IRS, Groner was an OCAGV board member. Yet in a May 14, 2003 letter to the Columbus Dispatch, Groner did not identify himself as such. However, the letter's content was clearly vintage Toby Hoover. Groner's intent was to rebut a previous letter from economist John Lott by quoting statistics from the rabidly anti-gun Violence Policy Center. He concluded the letter by stating that “If a single child is injured by a handgun owned by a "law-abiding citizen" with a concealed-carry permit, it is one too many.”

Lest one entertains the idea it was an inadvertant admission, consider the fact that Hoover has issued OCAGV press releases quoting Groner, but only as a medical doctor in Columbus, making no mention of his status as an OCAGV board member. The obvious intent of this is to give the appearance that Groner is an independent but concerned professional with no duck in the hunt. And time and again, the media has taken the bait.

For instance - to mark the one-year anniversary of concealed carry in Ohio, ran a (decidedly biased) story entitled "Concealed Carry Law Results Questioned - More Guns May Not Mean More Safety". Once again, Groner is quoted without any mention of his position with the OCAGV.

Again, it is not my point here to outline how wrong Groner and the rest have been on their predictions - others have done a wonderful job of this, and I certainly expect legislators to keep it in mind. Rather, my continued goal is to help the pro-gun community in Ohio better know our opponent, our opponent's massive funding courses, and our opponent's tactics.

As we have revealed previously, nearly three-quarters of one million dollars have flowed into Hoover's anti-gun organization in just four years, primarily through grants from the Joyce Foundation. Yet in the past two years, Hoover reported just $12,460 in lobbying expenses, and paid herself a generous salary, all while enduring legislative loss after legislative loss.

Nevertheless, I believe the Joyce Foundation is likely very pleased with its high dollar investment, because their real reason for supporting OCAGV is to prop up Hoover's ploy to make the abstract, invisible "anti-gun" public Professor Patrick refers to come to life in the minds of the media and legislators.

My hope is that as debate on HB347 begins, and after having seen the perverbial strings on the puppets, state legislators and the Ohio media establishment will be more suspicious about the information provided by the various anti-gun "experts" who can be expected to appear, and more willing to question their affiliations.

Additionally, our elected officials should be aware that unlike the phantom "public" in Hoover's OCAGV puppet show, the pro-gun majority (made up of millions and millions of individual NRA members, Buckeye Firearms Association donors, etc.) is actually going to show up each Election Day.

Chad D. Baus is the Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio Chair for the Buckeye Firearms Association.

  1. An Ohio doctors group joined gun-control advocates at a Statehouse rally Wednesday, saying a proposed concealed-weapons law would threaten public health.Physicians for Social Responsibility claims most Ohioans don't want a law allowing more people to carry guns, and says it would cause more domestic violence and shootings among children.... “The idea that more guns would result in fewer homicides is counterintuitive,” said Jonathan Groner, trauma director of Children's Hospital in Columbus.Dr. Groner said those most at risk under the proposal would be women and children, who are most likely to be shot at home by someone they know.
  2. Pediatric surgeon Dr. Jonathan Groner deals with young gunshot victims."The basic premise that society can be safer by ready access to lethal firepower is a corrupt premise," Groner said.He opposes concealed weapons. He said eventually, an innocent victim will be killed."For the average citizen, it's not an enhancement to safety. Why? Everybody has a bad day. When people walk around with lethal firepower, it's just someone is going to have a bad day," Groner said.

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