Ohio's U.S. Senators and challengers continue to make news over differing views on firearms rights

Both U.S. Senators from Ohio, Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R), and Ted Strickland, a Democrat hoping to win his party's nomination to challenge Portman in 2016, have been making news in recent days over comments made with regard to gun rights and gun control. (Brown and Strickland are pictured with President Obama.)

In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack in San Bernadino, CA, Sens. Brown and Portman cast votes on opposite sides of your Second Amendment rights. From NRAILA.org:

Long-time Second Amendment opponent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered a far-reaching amendment that would have given the U.S. Attorney General what amounted to a discretionary veto on gun sales to anyone “appropriately suspected” of having some connection to “terrorism.” Anti-gun bureaucrats would have been empowered to deny Second Amendment rights based merely on their own “reasonable belief” concerning someone’s present or future intentions.

Brown voted in favor of this limit on the due process rights of people placed on a government "no-fly" list, while Portman vote "no." Portman explained his rationale to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

He said that people can wind up the watch list, aka the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database, by mistake. What if they wanted to buy a gun to go hunting, get one for self-protection, or do whatever else they have a right to under the Second Amendment?

"We need to work with law enforcement and find solutions that keep weapons out of the hands of possible terrorists while respecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms," Portman said. "We should be able to do that."

He said he supported an alternative that would give the U.S. attorney general the discretion "to restrict firearm access to known or suspected terrorists on a case by case basis, rather than limiting access to anyone who may be incorrectly on the watch list, which happened to Nelson Mandela and others."

(Incidentally - WCPN, Cleveland's national public radio (NPR) affiliate, has since published a short quote that seems to fly in the face of this vote and comments by Senator Rob Portman. We are left to wonder how much of Portman's comments WCPN chose NOT to broadcast.)

Another gun control proposal was also defeated. Brown again voted with the losers, while Portman voting to uphold Americans' Second Amendment rights. Again from NRAILA.org:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also dredged up his ill-fated ban on private firearm transfers between friends and many family members. That was defeated by a vote of 47-50 – receiving seven votes less than it got two years ago. Manchin’s background check bill has been a rallying cry for anti-gun activists since its historic defeat in 2013. Fortunately, that cry once again fell on deaf ears as reason prevailed over hyperbole and opportunism.

Portman explained his "no" vote to the Plain Dealer:

As for the gun-show loophole, Portman said the proposal to close it could have made it hard or impossible for a law-abiding citizen to even loan his hunting rifle to his neighbor. It could have put a father afoul of the law if he gave a family gun to his son, Portman said.

This explanation might seem nonsensical to those who read the gun-show proposal -- an amendment known as Manchin-Toomey -- closely, because Manchin-Toomey made exceptions for transferring weapons to fathers, sons, cousins and so on, and for loaning guns to neighbors for hunting.

But the devilish details were problematic, Portman said. Asked to explain, his office said:

  • Although the legislative language contained exceptions for family, the exception would not be valid "if the gun owner has reasonable cause to believe the family member is prohibited" under federal, state or local law. That is, if a gun owner had reasonable cause to believe his son or cousin was a convicted felon or wife abuser, he could not sell the gun without checking the federal background-check system to be sure. But if you were not a lawyer, would you know what that means? Those words -- "reasonable cause to believe" -- would create ambiguity and potential problems, according to Portman aides.
  • There were holes in the definition of family. A first cousin would be exempted, but a second cousin would not. And step-children were not mentioned, either. Why should a responsible step-father have fewer rights?
  • Although background checks would not be required if a gun was going to be temporarily loaned for hunting or sport, they would have been implicitly required for the temporary purpose of self-defense, Portman's office said.
  • Ads and listings on the Internet would be treated the same as sales between individuals at gun shows, requiring background checks. Yet Manchin-Toomey was unclear on whether a gun sale facilitated through Facebook, Twitter, email groups and other online communication would trigger the need for conducting a background check, according to Portman.

It is important to note that neither proposal would have made ANY difference in the outcome of the attack in San Bernadino. In fact, the terrorists were able to pull off their attack despite a myriad of California gun control laws.

Senator Brown wasn't finished insulting Ohio gun owners. A week after his anti-gun votes in D.C., he decided to weigh on a state legislative proposal that would allow people in the Buckeye state their constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense in more places where active killer attacks often occur. From USA Today:

Sen. Sherrod Brown says Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature has gone bonkers, labeling lawmakers in Columbus “lunatics” when it comes to guns.

Brown’s remarks were prompted by a proposal from Rep. Ron Maag, R-Salem Township, that would allow individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry guns in day care facilities, private planes, police departments and airport terminals before the metal detectors.


“They’re all lunatics,” the Ohio Democrat told reporters Wednesday, apparently referring to a broad swath of pro-gun Republicans who have advocated for concealed-carry proposals.

Meanwhile, Ted Strickland, a Democrat who hopes to join Brown in D.C. by defeating Portman in November 2016, has also been sounding off in recent days.

In order to fit in to his anti-gun national party, the former Ohio governor continues on his path away from a long and impressive pro-gun rights career - a transformation he began almost immediately after being defeated by John Kasich (R) in 2010, no doubt with his national political aspirations in full view.

The former BFA A+ -rated governor now says he supports the Feinstein and Manchin proposals - a far cry from the man who, as a Congressman, went against his party and voted against a ban on modern sporting rifles as a Congressman in 1994, and who, during their 2010 contest for governor, castigated John Kasich for doing just the opposite.

Isn't it ironic that his primary challenger, P. G. Sittenfeld, is critical of Strickland for not having strong enough opposition to the Second Amendment?

From recent coverage on his abandonment of gun owners in the Dayton Daily News:

“We endorsed him for governor in 2010,” said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “But since then he has kind of really fallen off into all sorts of nonsense on this issue.”

“I can’t imagine that somebody who knows what he knows (on gun laws) can take the positions he is,” Irvine said. “He is absolutely wrong and he should know he’s wrong.”

Former Governor Ted Strickland, despite the good he did for gun owners when he lived in Ohio, has completely and totally lost his way in Washington D.C.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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