Think the Ohio gun ban lobby is dead? Think again.

by Chad D. Baus

Given their lack of success at lobbying in the Statehouse and at the ballot box, it's easy to get the idea that the Ohio gun ban lobby has folded up shop. But as a behind-the-scenes look at some of their current activities will show, that kind of thinking can lead to a complacency that gun owners in the Buckeye State cannot afford.

  • Citizens for Safety Ohio
  • In mid-July, CSO "spokesperson" and long-time gun control advocate Lori O'Neill issued a statement "calling for a crack down on gun trafficking." O'Neill falsely alleged that teenagers can legally buy weapons at guns shows in Ohio with no background check or identification required, and that criminals can do the same. As a means of solving this non-existent problem, O'Neill is calling on the state to mandate background checks on private transactions made between law-abiding adults at gun shows.

    (Even IF teens were buying guns illegally at gun shows - and O'Neill offers no proof to back up her claim - I am reminded of a quote from Samuel T. Cohen, inventor of the neutron bomb: "The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90 miles per hour, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20.")

    What the news media that dutifully published her press release (without any semblance of balance) failed to reveal was the other types of statements O'Neill has made in the past, and how wrong and unethical she has been proven to be over time.

    For example, this is the same Lori O'Neill who predicted that "companies in virtually every industry will be adversely affected if a concealed carry weapons bill passes in Ohio," and that "If...CCW passes in Ohio, it will give a whole new definition to the term 'hostile environment,'" and that "...Employers and customers who bring loaded handguns into offices, medical establishments, retail stores and banks increase the risk that someone will be injured or killed by their guns."

    Before creating her current misleadingly-named gun control organization, O'Neill once led the Cleveland chapter of the even more misleading name "Million" Mom March. (A project of the group which formerly called itself Handgun Control Inc. There were never a million moms in the group.) She once gave false testimony in the state Senate that business owners would be found in violation of OSHA standards if they allowed concealed carry on their property. (Representatives from OSHA confirmed they are not.) And when confronted, she once admitted she had been submitting letters to the editor in other people's names so that she could circumvent newspapers' policies on only printing one letter per person per 30 day period.

  • Mayors Against Gun Violence
  • In late July, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman distributed a letter, on offical "Office of the Mayor" letterhead, inviting Ohio mayors to join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control front group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG).

    Last fall, a large number of mayors from Ohio and across the country quit the group, saying they were misled about the groups' intentions when they signed up, or that they had never agreed to sign up at all.

    At the same time so many mayors were expressing their displeasure with the actions of MAIG, Coleman was being awarded by the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence for his failed attempts to disarm law-abiding citizens via gun control laws in the City of Columbus.

    And on April 8, 2004, the day concealed carry became law in Ohio, Coleman staged a press conference next to a jungle gym, lamenting the fact that the city was unable to protect children by posting signs banning concealed handgun license-holders. Coleman called Ohio's concealed carry law "a travesty for our city and for our state."

  • Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence
  • On August 17, Toby Hoover's cash cow, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (OCAGV) held a fundraiser with Cleveland Chief of Police Michael McGrath. Chief McGrath is among those named in a suit filed by Buckeye Firearms Association against the City of Cleveland after the city continued to prosecute law-abiding gun owners under local ordinances that restrict gun ownership and concealed carry, and in violation of the state's gun control preemption law. In 2007, when Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced at a press conference staged at the Police Briefing Room that "we intend to enforce our laws regardless of [state law]," McGrath stood beside the mayor and nodded in agreement. The event was promoted via an email from the national gun ban lobbyist group currently known as the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control Inc.).

    OCAGV has also revived their tactic of taking advantage of a crime as a means of garnering press attention. After a crime occurs, the group stages an "interfaith prayer vigil" and calls the media, which dutifully show up to cover the event as a way of providing a bookend on the crime story they have been covering. What is never revealed in the stories, however (and possibly not even to the reporters?), is that the clergy who host the vigils are quite often partisan, anti-gun members of the OCAGV board of directors, rather than just honest, concerned clergyman without an ax to grind. As Buckeye Firearms Foundation board of directors member Gerard Valentino points out, admitting that would let people in on the fact that the vigils in question are the creation of a group willing to turn human tragedy into political propaganda.

    Perhaps of greatest concern to gun owners should be the July 20 announcement that the group received a $55,000 shot in the arm from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation, which once counted among its board of directors none other than Barack Obama. Over the past decade, OCAGV has cashed in on about three-quarters of a million dollars from the Chicago-based group.

    In recent years, the pro-gun movement has made giant leaps forward, passing concealed carry laws, instituting Castle Doctrine, winning two major Supreme Court cases, and rolling back anti-gun laws coast-to-coast. Even the Democratic Party has backed off from openly supporting, or even talking about, gun control.

    Just as Sen. Dianne Feinstein promised in 2009 to "pick the time and the place" to push for the reinstatement of the federal ban on many semi-automatic rifles, and despite their many setbacks in Ohio, it is clear that gun control advocates are only biding their time, waiting for the right opportunity to make a resurgence.

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

    [UPDATE: Activists demand background checks for all Ohio gun show sales]

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