Oops! Anti-Gun Politicians Accidentally Make "Shooting Fundraiser" a Huge Success

Representative Margaret Conditt (Butler County District 55) held a fundraiser at the Middletown Sportsmens Club on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

The plan was to invite a handful of supporters, spend a few hours shooting at targets, and raise a little money for her reelection campaign. But what actually happened took everyone by surprise.

Rather than hosting a typical fundraiser which would ordinarily draw a few dozen people, Rep. Conditt ended up hosting a major event that drew over 200 attendees and raised tens of thousands of dollars.

What happened? Rep. Conditt got an "accidental" assist from a group of anti-gun politicians and activists, including Ohio Representatives Ted Celeste and Tracy Maxwell Heard along with Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence and Brian Rothenberg from Progress Ohio.

During a recent press conference, these gun control advocates launched a partisan and personal attack against Rep. Conditt, calling her upcoming fundraiser "distasteful" and "offensive, linking it to the recent shooting at Chardon High School where a 17-year-old shot several students, killing three. They called out Conditt and urged her to cancel the fundraiser.

Shocked and insulted at being linked to a mass murderer, gun owners and sportsmen around Ohio responded immediately, flooding Conditt's campaign office with donations and requests to attend her event.

Denouncing the attack on Rep. Conditt, Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA) called for Celeste and Maxwell to apologize for their remarks. BFA also announced they would begin collecting donations for the candidate and pledged matching funds up to $1,000. They reached that goal within four hours of the announcement. Subsequent donations poured in from gun owners in Ohio and 16 other states, including donations from as far away as California.

Linda Walker, BFA Leader and NRA Board Member, along with Sean Maloney, BFA Minuteman and attorney in West Chester, presented a check to Conditt at the May 12 fundraiser totaling $3,231, including the matching funds.

While presenting the check, Walker said, "The attack on Margaret Conditt was just partisan grandstanding. Celeste, Heard, and the others who suggested that ordinary folks who own guns or want to spend a few hours at a range shooting at targets are somehow linked to a deranged mass murderer should be ashamed of themselves. It's vile and offensive."

For the record, shooting range fundraisers are not unusual. And despite what anti-gun activists might think, the shooting sports is one of the safest and most popular activities in the U.S. According to a 2010 study by the National Sporting Goods Association, 44.5 million people over the age of seven regularly participate in the shooting sports (including target shooting, hunting, and muzzleloading).

This makes shooting sports more popular than the vast majority of common sports activities, including bicycle riding, bowling, jogging, fishing, basketball, soccer, and tennis. In fact, the shooting sports are twice as popular as golf (21.9 million), over three times as popular as baseball (12.5 million), and nearly 5 times as popular as football (9.3 million).

When asked if she ever considered canceling the fundraiser, Rep. Conditt said, "No. Not for even one second." Addressing the standing room only crowd, she smiled and said, "I want to thank Ted Celeste and Tracy Maxwell Heard for helping to make this fundraiser such a huge success."

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