BFA endorsee holds successful machine gun shoot fundraiser; Gun banners' internal emails about similar event last spring exposed

by Chad D. Baus

Last spring, Rep. Margaret Conditt, an "A"-rated Buckeye Firearms Association endorsee, announced she was having a "Shoot for Liberty" fundraiser, at which it was originally advertised that participants would be given an opportunity to shoot a machine gun.

The response from the gun ban extremist crowd was quick. Reps. Ted Celeste and Tracy Maxwell Heard (Democrats from the Columbus area) joined Toby Hoover, who fronts what often appears to be a one-woman show known as the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, in staging a press conference to decry the event.

Celeste said, "To parade about a fundraiser where supporters can shoot semi-automatic weapons for pleasure is distasteful and offensive to the memory of those [Chardon High School] students who were senselessly killed."

"Our families have the right to be free from gun violence," said Hoover. "The gun lobby's vision for Ohio is any gun, anyone, anywhere, and then let them be judge and jury if they feel threatened. These laws are threats to our freedom from violence."

The result, as one might expect from a bunch who have been defeated again and again and again in this state in recent years, was a much larger turnout in support of the event than had originally been expected.

Indeed, 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.

Internal emails obtained from the Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman's office through a freedom of information request show that there was disagreement among gun ban extremists about whether attacking Conditt's fundraiser was a good idea.

On March 29, Rep. Celeste forwarded an email announcing the event (written by Buckeye Firearms Association's Sean Maloney) to Lee Roberts, who is employed in Coleman's office and funded by a grant from NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Celeste said he was "outraged," and asked if "Mayors Against Gun Violence" would like to be involved in telling Rep. Conditt to "cool it."

MAIG likes to claim that they are not against the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and are only concerned about "illegal" guns. But the internal emails tell the tale.

Roberts immediately forwarded Celeste's email to his bosses in the New York mayor's office, saying "I'd love to get someone in their[sic] w a hidden cam."

After being contacted directly by OCAGV with a request for assistance, Roberts began discussing appropriate dates to hold the presser. He eventually cooled to the idea, however, emailing his bosses in NY on April 25:

"Frankly I don't understand the message's a pretty mixed message. I've been trying to get Marian to use the survivors our office worked with at the mayor's state of the city speech, and the DC fly-in to help her organization but this isn't really what I've got in mind. I was thinking more in an advocacy role, not as props in a pretty mixed messaged press conference. The fundraiser they are talking about doesn't relate in any way to the gun bills in Ohio."

In a follow-up email to New York later that same day, Roberts added:

"It really should be something Progress Ohio does a snarky email about and maybe some liberal group uses to raise money, not something we should be a part of. I'm going to try to kill it or at the least keep us out of it."

But even as he was telling NY that he wanted to "kill it," Roberts was advising Celeste through email on ways to make the event "much more focused," suggesting they use the presser to target Ohio's Castle Doctrine law.

On May 1, Roberts began forwarding links to news coverage of the press conference to his bosses, under the subject line "Remember that press conference I was trying to kill." At one point he added "This has been the biggest cluster ever."

On May 4, Roberts forward a link to a Buckeye Firearms Association report about the fundraiser, telling his New York bosses "that press conference OCAGV was having was a bad idea. They are going to raise a ton of cash off this now and have their own event talking about how it shows people support their agenda." Roberts criticized the event as "terribly unfocused."

The final link he forwarded was to's report on the success of the event.

Needless to say, Roberts, OCAGV and the rest were (at least publicly) quite silent this summer, when another BFA-endorsee, "A+"-rated Rep. Ron Maag, announced his own "Machine Gun Social." The result however, was no less exciting. This time, the event has drawn national attention from ABC News:

Ohio State Rep. Ron Maag wants to show voters he's a straight shooter.

The two-term Republican, who is running for re-election, hosted a "machine gun social" today at the Lake Bailee Gun Club in Hamilton, Ohio.

"Lots of full auto guns you can pay to shoot," said an advertisement for the event, which was posted on Maag's website.

The 66-year-old tweeted a picture of a bald eagle that flew above the range today.

"Great day at the Machine Gun Social. Come join us," said another tweet.

The results are clear. If you want to have a successful fundraiser, earn some free media coverage for your campaign and cause infighting among the gun ban crowd as a bonus, sponsor a machine gun shoot!

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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