Roundtable chat with Republican Ken Blackwell on firearms

By Larry S. Moore, Buckeye Firearms volunteer and outdoor columnist

As reported last week, the US Sportsmen Alliance (USSA) Tenth Annual Ohio Rally and Banquet on September 16 featured both Ted Strickland and Ken Blackwell as speakers.

There have been various media reports about the speeches. The USSA invited the Outdoor Writers of Ohio to conduct press interviews with both Mr. Strickland and Mr. Blackwell. The press conference was limited to only members of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio. The press conferences lasted approximately thirty minutes each.

The following are comments from the roundtable with Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Click on 'Read More' for the interview, published in Question and Answer format.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

Q: Ohio ranks way down the list, 47th, in the amount of public land available to its citizens to hunt, to fish, to hike, and backpack. Can we expand to add more wildlife areas, more state forest, and more national forests?

A: I hope we can approach more public and private partnerships like the one that led to the acquisition of the Vinton Experimental Forest. It takes more than just a set of goals. It takes a plan and then it takes leadership to get that done. Working with the legislature is one part. Having more private and public partnerships is critical. It all starts with having a purpose and having a plan, then the willingness to spend the political capital to get it done.

Q: You are campaigning on reducing taxes and size of state government, how you plan to adequately fund ODNR and especially those areas, which have already faced drastic cuts over the last 10 years.

A: Let’s first be clear about what I am looking at when we talk about cuts to the rapid increases in state government spending. From 1994 to 2004 Ohio led the nation in the increases in state government spending. I don’t presume that we work from a theory to take a meat cleaver to those things that are part of the economic growth strategy. There are certain expenditure areas that are important to increasing the economic health of the state. ODNR is important in terms of creating jobs, increasing travel and tourism, plus quality of life issues. I’ve tried to articulate the things we have to do to make Ohio a destination spot – that includes making Ohio a top destination for outdoor, hunting, fishing and related travel. That does not take away from the strategy of limited state government – it invests more wisely.

Q: Do you feel that State Parks have been treated fairly over ten years with buying used vehicles and they have combined many parks under 1 manager and resulted in less quality of service to the park users?

A: My belief is that resources within state budget have to be spent more wisely. Conservation and maintenance of our parkland is a priority. The real question is can we spend our money more prudently? I say yes we can. Our state parks have lodges managed by private entities. That is an excellent example on how we have provided accommodations without expanding state government. I will continue to look for ways to do this while continuing to put adequate resources to conservation and making our state a top destination outdoor travel spot.

Q: Looking at the structure of the ODNR as it is now, would you encourage ONDR Director Sam Speck to stay on as its director or do you have changes in the wind – either combining or separating divisions.

A: I don’t see combining divisions but I would look for reducing duplication. I would not get into personnel decisions before I’ve won the office. Let me give you an example of where ODNR would be a winner. Right now we are the only state in the nation that has 2 state agencies regulating the coal industry. I would suggest that ODNR would get the responsibility of regulating that industry. Eliminating duplication saves government funds.

RUNNING MATES & GUNS

Q: We have not addressed firearms issues. HB 347 is currently stalled in the Senate. What is the future gun legislation, such Castle Doctrine and No Duty to Retreat, do you support?

A: I was hoping someone would ask that. In HB 347 the paramount issues are preemption and the ability to carry concealed in the car. I sent a letter to President Harris urging passage of the bill. I worked with both President Harris and Speaker Husted to get this bill passed by the end of this session. I think we are going to get it done. Florida is a good starting point for Castle Doctrine and other laws that support self-defense. It is something that we should take a very serious look at.

Elections are about choices. Regarding Second Amendment freedom and self-defense issues you have to look at a couple of things. With a Blackwell-Raga ticket you get a double barreled A rating from the NRA. With the Strickland-Fisher ticket you have the state’s leading gun control advocate – a heartbeat, an accident or a long extended trip away from setting policy and direction in that administration. I own firearms, am a member of the Ohio Gun Collectors Association and a life member of the NRA.

Let me underscore something that is very important. Mr. Strickland does not own guns. He has in the past said he doesn’t like guns, and that the only way he has voted on Second Amendment issues is his constituency in his district is pro-Second Amendment. That leads to the question if his constituency changes will his conviction change? I will state that I don’t care whether I am in the minority view or not on matters of principle and convictions. I am a man of conviction. My support for Second Amendment has been strong whether I am in the majority or in the minority.

My choice of a running mate included core issues that were paramount. These are: 1. That he could get his mind wrapped around the support of cutting taxes and the tax burden. He had to be enthusiastically supportive of that initiative. 2. Had to be a strong defender of Second Amendment freedoms. 3. Had to be an advocate for the culture of life and protecting the unborn. Those are my three main standard bearer issues. Tom Raga passed on all those issues and that sets us apart from the Strickland-Fisher ticket.

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