Opposition hearing on HB347 brings the same old show

Buckeye Firearms Association was on hand for opposition testimony on House Bill 347 today in Columbus, and fresh on the heels of our recent investigation into how the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence's Toby Hoover operates at these hearings, our representatives were keeping a watchful eye for the Puppetmaster's strings. And it didn't take long to spot them...

Linda Walker, Joey Lee, Dean Rieck, Ken Hanson and Gerard Valentino are among the Buckeye Firearms Association leaders were in attendance at the hearing.

As he entered, Central Ohio Chair Valentino chose a seat in the hearing room behind Toby Hoover. Almost immediately, Valentino overheard Hoover coordinating with several people as to who would testify as an individual and who would testify as part of OCAGV.

Several other pieces of legislation were heard first, and by the time it came time for Hoover's puppet show, very few committee members (and apparently no members of the media) had stayed to watch the performances.

    Puppet #1: Judy Wolfe

    Wolfe testified that she was a part of the National Council of Jewish Women, and made no mention of her affiliation with Hoover or the OCAGV. In what would become the primary theme of all Hoover's puppets, Wolfe testified against the idea of statewide preemption, asked legislators to protect the media access loophole so that the public can protect themselves from CHL-holders, and also threw in a complaint on the lack of adequate training for CHL-holders. No questions were asked of this witness, although one might have wondered what she would consider adequate training, given that Ohio already has a 12 hour requirement, one of the longest in the nation.

    Puppet #2: Rosetta Craig

    Although Hoover instructed Craig to testify as herself (Craig: "I'm testifying as me, right?" Hoover: "Yes.") Craig did mention to legislators that she was there with OCAGV, before insisted that her testimony was her own. She then proceeded to echo Wolfe's complaints about lack of training and the need for media access to the list of CHL-holders. Craig, who once told the Columbus Dispatch that her definition of an assault weapon is "guns that carry a lot of bullets," concluded by telling legislators that those who carry concealed weapons look at their gun as the "magic Talisman" (Really? A good luck charm Rosetta?)

    Representative Ron Hood asked Craig if she feels safer with a recently-passed assault weapons ban in her home town of Shaker Heights even though criminals don't pay attention to them. Her response was that "keeping our citizens safe is very complex. This is about community values. We do not want a community packing heat!"

    Puppet #3: Howard Friedman (aka The Professor)

    Howard Friedman is the Vice President of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and a law professor at the University of Toledo. Unlike 2003, when he signed on with a group of anti-gunners who urged the Ohio Supreme Court to reverse two unanimous lower courts in Klein v. Leis et. al (which it eventually did) without identifying himself as an OCAGV Board member, Friedman today did mention testifying for OCAGV. Friedman's main focus kept with Hoover's program by arguing against statewide preemption for firearms laws.

    The Anti-Gun Puppet Master: Toby Hoover

    Hoover hit on the same points as her first two performers, beginning with the "necessity" for the media access loophole. As for statewide preemption, Hoover complained that it "regulates municipalities instead of people". Hoover also raised the issue of the "plain sight" fix, and told legislators that "respect for law enforcement should be enough to keep plain sight" (apparently she just doesn't mean they should have respect for Ohio's 88 Sheriffs, who support language in HB347 which would remove the ridiculous plain sight provision). Finally, Hoover told legislators about several Ohio CHL-holders who have had run-ins with the law, and since she only had three from Ohio after nearly two years, then mentioned one from Virginia.

    When it came time for questioning, Rep. Williamowski asked Hoover if, since she was in favor of home rule when it came to firearms, it would also be OK if a city council decided that they wanted to change the colors of traffic lights to blue, purple and orange. Hoover responded that she thought the question was ridiculous.

    Representative Hood commented to Hoover that the Ohio Constitution makes it clear that the right to defend trumps any home rule requirements. Hoover, apparently not familiar with Article 1, Section 4 ("The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security"), responded that the "Ohio constititution doesn't have anything to do with self-defense".

The final testimony of the day was heard from Karen Ramey of the League of Women Voters, who again hit on Hoover's two main themes - opposition to statewide preemption and closing the media access loophole.

Overall, hearing attendees came away with a bit of a feeling of anti-climax. Having already lost on the fight against concealed carry, it was apparent to most that the gun banners were having a hard time getting traction with their usual parade of emotional anecdotes and unsupported claims of guns making communities less safe. Committee members were clearly unimpressed, and Hoover must realize the media's continued lack of interest in hearings on this bill can certainly not bode well for her and the rest of her cast of characters.

Buckeye Firearms Association will continue to bring you the very lastest information as this and other legislation important to Ohio gun owners moves through the legislature.

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