Vintage 1957 Ohio Conservation Bulletin magazine gives look back at the fight against gun control

A local reader gave me a number of copies of the old Ohio Conservation Bulletin magazine a few years ago. At that time I glanced through them but laid them aside. This spring I got them out for a closer look. I found fascinating information about the history of ODNR, the conservationists, writers and issues from sixty-years ago. The ODNR headquarters was 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus, which is now the Wildlife District 1 office. Ohio's Governor was C. William O'Neil; Herbert D. Eagon was the ODNR Director with Hayden W. Olds as the Chief of the Division of Wildlife. The November 1957 bulletin offers some interesting history regarding the Second Amendment.

The first title and piece to catch my attention was "A Question of Freedom". The author isn't listed. It focuses on four regulations proposed by the Internal Revenue Service and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Unit. They were holding a hearing to give individuals, organizations and states the opportunity to present their views. William Saxbe was the Ohio Attorney General and Ohio was represented at the hearings by Assistant Attorney General William M. Vance. Among the groups to testify were the National Association of Sporting Goods Dealers and The National Association of Police Chiefs.

The four rules being considered were:
1. Each manufacturer and importer will be required to stamp the name and location of manufacture or importer; the serial number; caliber and model of the firearm.
2. Each licensed manufacturer or dealer maintain records showing the receipt and disposition of all firearms. The records would be required to be permanently preserved.
3. Each manufacturer and dealer shall maintain records regarding production, receipt and disposition at wholesale or retail of all pistol and revolver ammunition except .22 caliber. The requirement for manufacturers already existed and the rule will extend it to retailers.
4. Over the counter sales of firearms and pistol and revolver ammunition will be acknowledged by the signature of the person to whom the ammunition is sold, delivered or distributed.

The testimony of Assistant Attorney General William M. Vance included some interesting points:

  • He called the proposed rules "....insidious amendments".
  • The amended regulations would "....make a million honorable, honest men suspected criminals to make it a questionable bit easier to catch on scoundrel."
  • "The proposed regulations are unconstitutional: they are an affront by an executive bureau on the functions of the legislative branch of our government; they make every sportsmen a presumptive criminal; and, wrap it all up they are ill-conceived, ill- considered, unworkable and ineffective". I think Mr. Vance summed up all the gun control laws since 1957 and all that are still being proposed today!
  • "Sportsmen oppose them because they imply that every owner of a shotgun is a potential gangster".
  • "These regulations are bureaucracy at its worst."

I could go on with a long list of the common sense in Mr. Vance's testimony. Many of us have used similar words to our elected officials today. The times have certainly changed but many of the same challenges remain. The old bulletins remind us of where we have been as gun owners and sportsmen. They also point to our ongoing struggle against government intrusion on our freedoms.

Sadly, it would appear that not so many U.S. Representatives and Senators might show up to testify against additional rules. In 1957 all but one opposed the rule changes, certainly not likely to happen in Washington D.C. gun control hearings today! Oh and that one that supported the additional rules was? No surprise here - the National Association of Police Chiefs. One more thing that hasn't changed in over sixty-years!

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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