Contrary to editoral opinion, the greatest threat to GOP candidates in November would be FAILING to pass needed pro-gun reforms

by Jim Irvine

On May 12, The Cleveland Plain Dealer published an editorial by Brent Larkin entitled "GOP state legislators' zeal for guns could wound Romney."

The editorial is wrong on so many levels that at first I didn't even think it was worthy of a comment. I have since reconsidered, figuring that good men should not remain silent, lest others not have the opportunity to learn the truth.

Larkin's main premise is that Republican legislators have a "preoccupation" with passing gun bills. This is an interesting take, considering that the only gun bills passed this session were clean-up bills left over from last session, when no gun bills passed. He lists all sorts of "scary" bills that would rescind some of the more onerous restrictions Ohio places on law-abiding gun owners, thus bringing Ohio more in line with the mainstream. Of course he fails to mention than none of them have actually passed. HB495 is the only bill to make it as far as a second hearing. If there is something Republican legislators should be scared about, it's not passing more reforms to update Ohio's gun laws.

It is well known that gun owners, especially pistol shooters and concealed carry license holders, are politically active. They cross all party, gender, racial, and socioeconomic lines. For years women have been the fastest-growing segment of gun owners and CHL applicants. Politicians looking for votes know there are no better groups to pander to than the "gun lobby," which is made up of millions of these regular people who care about safety, security and freedom. They may not be as well-known as editorial writers, but they donate more money, volunteer more hours, and cast more votes.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that a majority of Republicans think there should be "less gun ownership regulation." That should have every Republican up for election this November begging for a chance to vote on some of those gun bills.

The survey also found that 68% of all respondents had a favorable opinion of the NRA. A majority of Democrats (55%) and a whopping 82% of Republicans view the NRA favorably. So Larkin thinks it's unwise to pass legislation likely to be supported by the vast majority of voters? Apparently he never learned the lessons of the 1994 elections, when the GOP retook Congress and the U.S. Senate in the biggest shellacking of the Democrats in almost 50 years. That election followed the passage of a very unpopular "assault weapon ban" that has thankfully expired, much to the disdain of The Plain Dealer editorial board.

If Larkin is as reckless with a gun as he is with his words, I'm glad he does not want to own one. Maybe we should start requiring background checks, fingerprints, mandated training and a license from the government before allowing editors to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Larkin quotes Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask, noting he "considers himself a champion of the Second Amendment." Yea, right. Just like Barack Obama, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Mayor Bloomberg.

Flask is so hostile toward the Second Amendment that Buckeye Firearms Foundation had to sue the city of Cleveland and Flask for an injunction to stop them from violating state law. They were not happy with the 20,000 State and Federal gun laws and found it necessary to make up and enforce their own. Cleveland lost their separate lawsuit at the Ohio Supreme Court level, forcing them to admit, in their last filing in our lawsuit, that they can no longer enforce their anti-gun laws.

Self-defense is a basic human right. Firearms are a great tool to level the playing field and enable weaker victims to successfully fight back against a faster/stronger attacker. Laws restricting how or where a potential victim fights back help the criminal. Maybe The Plain Dealer simply needs the crime stories to sell papers, but the average voter does not want to be a story or statistic. They want to get home safely and they want the legislature to make that task easier. The public wants pro-gun bills passed.

The editorial ends with a quote made by Franklin Orth, "executive secretary of the National Rifle Association," after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy almost 50 years ago. Many people believed "gun control" was good policy back then. Mercury and radioactive water used to be prescribed as medicine. Today we know that instead of curing the body, it poisons it. A wealth of studies and science have proven that gun control does not work either. We should reject failed ideas and demand legislators use the knowledge gained over the years when crafting new policy.

Some thought the greatest threat to the GOP this election year was President Obama's tenfold fundraising advantage over Mitt Romney. Turns out the greatest threat would be looking to Larkin or The Plain Dealer for political advice. It appears that neither the Republican nor the Democratic party leaders are going to make that mistake. The voters surely won't.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

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