Ohio restaurant carry legislation is a political bellwether

by Gerard Valentino

We all know that most racists begin their bigoted, ignorant statements by reminding everyone within earshot about how many friends they have who are minorities. Usually, the assurance of having friends who are minorities is a tip-off that a truly racist and indefensible statement is imminent.

Anti-gun politicians do the same thing when they are about to equate gun owners with gun-wielding crack addicts, or profess support for an especially egregious gun control scheme. "I support the Second Amendment, but..."

Ohio State Representative Matt Lundy (D-57) became the latest example of a politician continuing to profess a strong belief Second Amendment after actively working to destroy gun rights. Lundy aggressively opposed restaurant and car carry reform during committee hearings on HB45. Despite his role in trying to attach anti-gun amendments to the bill, his vote against the bill and his claims that Ohio's concealed carry license holders are likely to take part in felonious assaults on law enforcement officers, Lundy still thinks he can fool gun owners.

When Buckeye Firearms Association called him out for his bait and switch tactics, Lundy made the following statement:

"I'm disappointed, but I've been very clear that I support the Second Amendment."

Voting against bearing arms for self-defense in family restaurants, introducing anti-gun amendments, and claiming concealed carry license holders are a threat to law enforcement officers is a strange stance for anyone claiming to support the Second Amendment.

Another tactic used by anti-gun politicians is to claim there isn't enough evidence to convince them whether Ohio's concealed carry population is comprised of saints or sinners. Indeed, the saints or sinners comment was taken word for word from Ohio Rep. Bill Patmon (D-10), who led the anti-gun charge during recent HB45 (Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix) hearings.

The information he claims doesn't exist is easily found on the Ohio Attorney General's Web site, where anyone can find the number of concealed handgun license revocations and suspensions. But, since that number is astoundingly low, law enforcement union lobbyists are now claiming there is a breakdown in law enforcement reporting of crimes committed by license holders in Ohio.

Funny how, when an unbiased statistic is found to prove that Ohio's license holders are truly law-abiding, the anti-gun side refuses to accept it.

Anti-gun leaders in the Ohio House have also refused to accept the statistics easily found on the Texas Department of Public Safety Web site. Texas does a great job of quantifying the number of crimes committed by permit holders, and once again the unbiased numbers show Texas permit holders are among the most law-abiding demographic groups in the country.

In 2008 and 2009, 0.1653 percent of crimes (or just over one-tenth of 1 percent) in Texas were committed by permit holders.

Once again, the unimpeachable proof that concealed carry permit holders, nationwide, are honest, law-abiding citizens isn't enough. Instead, anti-gun leaders like Representative Patmon try to sensationalize the few crimes committed by license-holders.

Instead, Patmon tries to pawn off statistics by the Violence Policy Center, an anti-gun group, as objective.

Like any other demographic group that is made up of human beings, there are going to be crimes committed by Ohio's concealed carry population, just as there are crimes committed by Ohio's law enforcement community, and Ohio's elected officials. The difference is the incredibly low number of crimes committed by license holders in Ohio.

Since Ohio passed legal concealed carry, one law enforcement officer was supposedly killed by a license holder. Based on his questions during the HB45 hearings, that crime was enough to convince Representative Patmon that all concealed carry license holders are cop killers in waiting. In comparison, during that same time frame, at least three Ohio citizens were allegedly murdered by law enforcement officers.

If we use Representative Patmon's own logic, the police need to be disarmed because one or two rogue individuals committed unspeakable crimes.

As the debate over Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix legislation continues, the call for more data to determine if concealed carry license holders are sinners or saints is easily exposed as a red herring. Any politician hiding behind such an argument is merely trying to conceal an anti-gun bias behind smoke and mirrors.

Exposing the fuzzy logic used to try and convince Ohioans that there isn't enough information to cast an honest vote on HB45/ SB17, takes away the anti-gun security blanket used for so long by politicians determined to destroy the right to bear arms.

That will not stop people like Representative Patmon from pushing their anti-gun, anti-freedom agenda. They are in too deep to see the light of day and take the enlightened position on guns and gun control.

Sadly, it isn't the anti-gun elected officials like Patmon or Lundy who are delaying passage of Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix legislation. Since the Republicans control the Ohio House, Senate and Governor's mansion, they can pass HB45/ SB17 without a single Democrat voting in favor of the bill. Currently, it is the party whose candidates often begin their stump speeches by describing their years of support for Second Amendment rights that is the source of the delay.

During the last legislative session, Republicans went on the record to proclaim their support for SB239, which has been reincarnated as HB45/ SB17. In the Ohio Senate last session, the bill passed easily and Republicans in the Ohio House claimed the votes were in place to pass it and move it to Governor Strickland for his signature. The Ohio Senate has once again passed the bill, picking up two votes since last session. But we are now asked to believe that a Republican-controlled Ohio House, with a 59-40 seat majority, now lacks full-scale support for HB45/ SB17 that existed under the Democrat-controlled House a few months ago.

HB45/ SB17 is the legislation promised to gun owners by Republicans who went to bat for Gov. John Kasich over his mixed Congressional record on gun rights. Kasich has repeatedly said he would sign it. As such, passage of HB45/ SB17 is a bellwether. It is the only way for Governor Kasich and his colleagues in House Republican caucus to prove to Ohio gun owners they are true to their word.

Unless Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix legislation is passed and signed into law, Ohio gun owners will be left to wonder if we are reliving the Bob Taft years.

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.

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