Who Pays for the Fiddler?

By Gerard Valentino
The political machinations of Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett have guided the party to power and the state to economic and social disaster over the last 16 years. Under Republican control, Ohio’s tax burden has skyrocketed, brain drain has reached epidemic proportions and school funding has proved to be an unmitigated disaster.
Ohio also passed the worst concealed carry law in the nation.
Now, as Bennett fiddles towards his goal of continued GOP control of the state government, he has badly miscalculated on the key issue of gun owner voter loyalty.
Ohio’s Senate has recessed for the summer without moving on HB347, which would fix many of the poison pills in Ohio’s current concealed carry law and create statewide preemption for gun laws. Both issues greatly effect over 70,000 concealed carry license holders and up to 500,000 hunters and sporting shooters.
So far, the path of HB347 has shown an eerie resemblance to Ohio’s original concealed carry law, which also overwhelmingly passed the Ohio House only to be poisoned by Republican leadership in the Senate. Among other poisons pills, the Senate GOP inserted our absurd car-carry restrictions and the media access loophole.
Once again it’s the Ohio Senate Republican leadership, led by Senate President Bill Harris, who is responsible for failing to act on a pro-gun bill. Their decision has alienated up to 570,000 predominately Republican voters.
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Since Bennett keeps a tight reign on legislation during election years, it can only be surmised that he has, once again, taken gun owners for granted while listening to every whisper of the FOP and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Bennett, however, is counting on continued gun owner voter loyalty. Now, after being sold out once again by the Ohio GOP, one has to wonder how many have given up on voting Republican. Instead, many are, for the first time, looking at the Ohio Democratic leadership of pro-gun Chris Redfern and headlined by two statewide pro-gun candidates, Ted Strickland and Marc Dann, who are running for the Governor and Attorney General, respectively.
GOP voters are also starting to take their frustration out on pro-gun legislators who refuse to demand that the Senate leadership call for a vote on HB347.
If, as many GOP candidates claim, they are strong defenders of the Second Amendment, they need to start holding the Party leadership accountable for selling out gun owners. Some, like Senator Joy Padgett, Reps. Danny Bupb, Ron Hood and Tim Schaffer, among others, have spoken out against Senate President Bill Harris’ decision to derail HB347.
Other outspoken GOP gun-rights legislators have simply stood by and watched as their Party leadership refused to move a bill that has overwhelming bipartisan support, is accepted by every pro-gun group and has the blessing of all but one law enforcement group. As it stands, two people, Governor Bob Taft and Senate President Bill Harris are the only elected officials blocking the passage of HB347. Yet another eerie resemblance to HB12, the original concealed carry law, which was destroyed by the political gamesmanship of Taft and then Senate President Doug White.
The difference this time is the rank and file gun voter is demanding action by their elected representative to remove members of leadership who refuse to work towards passage of HB347. No longer can a candidate stand at the podium and claim they want to see HB347 pass. Pro-gun voters instead want to hear candidates say they are working with their fellow Republicans to demand that Senate President Harris bring the Senate back into session and pass HB347 before the November elections.
Anything short of that will leave gun owners once again without a seat at the GOP table come election time. Except this time, gun owners finally have recognized their place is on the outside looking in. They are also well aware that any GOP promise to pass HB347 after the election is shaky at best. Even though Congressman Ted Strickland is pro-gun, a Republican controlled legislature would never give a Democrat the honor of signing HB347.
As the November elections near and the parties lay out their strategy, there is no doubt protecting gun-rights will take a prominent place in both platforms. Without the passage of HB347 prior to the election, the Republicans will, yet again, be exposed as all rhetoric and no action on the gun issue.
Bennett, his puppet Governor Taft, and Senate President Harris still refuse to acknowledge that their off-key fiddling has made gun owners truly angry this time.
However, the ultimate question is: When the smoke clears on November 7th, will many outstanding pro-gun Republican candidates ultimately pay for Leadership’s off-key fiddling?
(Gerard Valentino is the Buckeye Firearms Association Central Ohio Chair, Buckeye Firearms.org, and writes for the ValentinoChronicle.com)

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