Concealed carry debate delivered four times the communication as collective bargaining bill; CCW still portrayed as fringe issue
by Gerard Valentino
The Ohio media and anti-Second Amendment politicians are notorious for trying to portray gun rights as a fringe issue pushed by a small vocal minority. In contrast, the recent coverage of Senate Bill 5, which was designed to limit the collective bargaining rights of public unions, was covered as if the majority of Ohioans were riveted.
After SB5 passed and was signed into law, the Ohio media reported that less than 12,000 emails were sent to Governor John Kasich's office, with 84% stating opposition to provisions of the bill. According to The Dayton Daily News, nearly two-thirds of the emails in opposition were from public union employees, or their relatives.
In contrast, former Governor Bob Taft received more than 53,000 phone calls, emails, letters and faxes on the issue of concealed carry - 42,000 faxes, letters and emails came from supporters of legal concealed carry in Ohio, and just over 3,700 against such a measure. Phone calls made to Taft's office totaled 5,900 in favor of concealed carry reform and only 1,664 against.
Such overwhelming support for legal concealed carry proves that gun rights is not a fringe issue, but instead is an issue important to a large number of Ohioans. The numbers also show that Ohioans support gun rights by a large margin.
Yet, the Ohio media and anti-gun rights politicians still try to portray the gun lobby as a tiny group of extremists, and tries to convince Ohioans that all gun owners are middle-aged white rednecks.
The fact that all walks of life are represented in the gun community is a well-known but rarely admitted secret among Ohio's journalism community, a fact that will never see the light of day because Ohio's establishment media refuse to admit the gun lobby is anything more than a kook fringe element.
Most recently, it was journalist Thomas Suddes who, in a recent editorial, pushed the myth that only white men own guns. He went so far as to call gun owners gay-bashers as well. It is hard to imagine, however, that the more than 53,000 people that contacted Governor Taft's office were all toothless tractor jockeys, as people of Suddes ilk would have us believe.
The hypocrisy among Ohio's elitist media doesn't end there. Remember that the protesters trying to shut down the Ohio statehouse during the debate over SB5 were portrayed as simple common people fighting for their rights. The Ohio media pushed the message that our teachers, firefighters and police officers were being harmed by SB5, and were forced to assemble to protect their livelihoods.
On the other hand, when Ohio's gun owners rallied peacefully in the days before concealed carry became legal the media described the protesters as cowboys on the way to a showdown.
Regardless of anyone's personal opinion on SB5, the fact is that protesters staged a loud sit-in at the statehouse that disrupted government business. Nobody denies it is their right to do so, and if more people took such an active role in government, our political process would be much better off.
Still, the hypocrisy in how the mainstream media described the gun protest compared with their description of the union protest was shocking.
By zeroing in on the stereotype instead of the school teacher, police officer, government worker or young mother, it helped the Ohio media push the myth that gun owners are a bunch of cowboy vigilantes anxiously waiting for their chance to pull their "piece."
On a personal note, as a co-organizer of the Open Carry Walks in Central Ohio in 2003, I was baited by reporters from The Columbus Dispatch and other outlets to talk about my "gat" or my "piece" in a way they could sensationalize. When I refused to discuss my "heater," they found other ways to paint the anti-gun
picture they wanted.
Unfortunately, because of the misrepresentation of gun owners in the Ohio media, the gun community is always fighting a battle to establish the issue as mainstream. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the right to bear arms is an individual right protected by the Constitution, the Ohio media haven't changed their anti-gun tune. Sadly, they never will.
But, gun owners have the truth on their side and have to keep pushing to force the legislature into protecting our rights. Unless we act to remind them that the gun issue is mainstream, and that gun owners are a political force to be reckoned with, our rights will be infringed. It is just that simple.
Everyone out there who thinks someone else will do the work to protect gun rights, or who thinks they can't make a difference is part of the problem. When it comes to defending our rights, the gun community needs all hands on deck.
With two gun bills floundering in the Ohio House of Representatives, NOW is the time.
Contact your Representative NOW and say you want the House to vote on our pro-gun bills immediately.
Gerard Valentino is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and the author of "The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative," available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.