Thanks to national columnist, misleading campaign postcard still reverberates

By Chad D. Baus

Last summer, voters in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District who make their decisions based on gun rights were given two good choices - former State Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) faced off against Iraq War vet Paul Hackett (D), in a special election to fill a seat vacated when President Bush appointed then-Congressman Rob Portman as U.S. Trade Representative.

The National Rifle Association decided it saw enough of a difference between the candidates and endorsed Schmidt, who eventually won 52%-48%, a margin of victory less than typical for Republicans in the district. The results of this special election continue to reverberate, from political blogs debating Democrats' chances of regaining state and federal legislative majorities in 2006 to the halls of Congress and debate on the war in Iraq.

But in the effort to read the tea leaves about why this race was closer than some expected, a misunderstanding about Schmidt’s record on support for gun rights has begun to creep into the national lexicon, and it deserves to be addressed.

On November 26, 2005, conservative columnist Robert Novak, famous of late for a 2003 column which sparked the Valerie Plame-CIA agent controversy, made the following claim:

    Schmidt nearly lost the special election because of lukewarm support from conservatives, who disliked her voting record in the Ohio legislature on gun control issues.

Indeed, Novak could be correct that there was concern among conservatives over her record on gun rights, which indeed could also explain why Hackett was able to draw as close as he did to Schmidt in this conservative district. But up until a recent Buckeye Firearms Association investigation, the source for voters’ misperception on this issue was somewhat of a mystery.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

At the time of the August election, Rep. Schmidt was a two-time Buckeye Firearms Association endorsee. She carried an “A” grade from the National Rifle Association, and had received the NRA’s endorsement in her campaign against Paul Hackett. As a Congresswoman, Schmidt recently made national headlines when she took a CCW class offered by Buckeye Firearms Association Region Leader Collin Rink and obtained her concealed carry license, and has also earned this political action committee’s endorsement for re-election to Congress next year.

So where did Robert Novak (and according to him quite a few 2nd Congressional District voters) get the idea that she supports gun control? For insight, consider remarks Novak made back on September 11, 2005. In his column, which was published in the Chicago Sun-Times and syndicated across the nation, Novak cited a campaign postcard sent out by the Hackett for Congress campaign.

    In a summer mailing to voters in the conservative constituency, Hackett identified himself as a Marine veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and National Rifle Association member. The card says: ''The first week I was home from Iraq I got my conceal and carry permit.''

    The card assailed the record in the Ohio legislature of his Republican opponent, Jean Schmidt, for voting against a concealed handguns bill in 2003 and against a concealed weapons bill in 2004.

Buckeye Firearms Association has obtained a copy of the aforementioned postcard, which can be viewed by clicking here (.pdf file).

In the postcard, two “no” votes cast by then-state Representative Schmidt are cited.

  • June 19, 2003 – Rep. Schmidt cast a vote to reject the Senate’s horribly amended version of House Bill 12, a bill she had co-sponsored. Schmidt’s vote (along with the rest of the pro-gun majority) meant that she refused to agree with the Senate’s horrible amendments (including the infamous “carjacker protection” provision, which would have mandated that if a minor was present in the vehicle, a license-holder would be forced to lock up their firearm, rendering it unavailable in an emergency). This procedural vote ensured that the bill would go to a conference committee, where “carjacker protection” was eventually removed before Schmidt and others voted to make concealed carry law in Ohio.
  • January 6, 2004 – Rep. Schmidt cast a procedural vote on the house floor to “unaccept” a Conference Committee report on House Bill 12. This vote was necessary to rescue the bill from a gubernatorial veto. Without Schmidt's (and the rest of the pro-gun majority's) vote, House Bill 12 would not have become law, and Ohio would not have become a concealed carry state at that time.

    Although the campaign card represents these two votes as the totality of “Jean Schmidt’s Second Amendment Record In Columbus”, nothing could be further from the truth. These votes were both procedural votes that helped rescue this concealed carry bill from attempts by Gov. Bob Taft and his allies in the Senate to insert poison pills and derail this important legislation.

    It is unfortunate that this postcard was ever sent, and it is even more unfortunate that a man of Robert Novak’s stature would be continuing to repeat this misleading information.

    Please write Robert Novak and ask him to use a future column to help the nation know the truth about Congresswoman Jean Schmidt’s strong support for our Second Amendment rights.

  • Help us fight for your rights!

    Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

    Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

    Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

    We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.


    Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.