Whoever wins, ''sportsmen...have scored a victory''

Ohio's two major party gubernatorial candidates made another stop on the "guns to governor" campaign trail Tuesday, appearing together for the second time in three days to talk firearms rights. The location for Tuesday's event was the Goodyear Hunting and Fishing Club on the southeast edge of Akron, at a candidates' night sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.

Click on 'Read More' for the entire story.

Toledo Blade outdoor writer Steve Pollick is reporting that the two candidates for governor of Ohio are offering the state's hunters, anglers, and other outdoorsmen much the same in terms of support.

    Each touted his continuing support for firearms ownership and pro-gun issues, including passage of House Bill 347, which would streamline the state's complicated concealed firearms carry law.

    ...In an interview, "I'm an outdoor enthusiast and firearms owner,'' Mr. Blackwell stated. He said that he regularly uses his shotguns on clay-target ranges, shooting skeet, trap, and Sporting Clays games.

    He went on to list the models and gauges of his shotguns, and during the open forum also acknowledged he owns and shoots a .45 pistol and a target pistol. He also hunts both doves and pheasants, saying, "I've enjoyed both.''

    ...He made a point of stating he is a member in the Ohio Gun Collectors Association and a life member of the National Rifle Association.

    Though he grew up in the city in Cincinnati, Mr. Blackwell said that his experiences with Boy Scout Troop 75 and the YMCA there introduced him to outdoor sports.

    Mr. Strickland, on the other hand, said in an interview that he currently owns no firearms. But he later told his audience that as a youth he enjoyed hunting squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons. He said while he has not hunted in recent years, his brothers own firearms collections and he intends to qualify for a state concealed carry handgun permit.

    ...Among other things, Mr. Strickland stresses his A rating, throughout his political career, from the National Rifle Association. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive director, participated in a political fund-raiser for one of his campaigns.

    "I will continue to be a strong supporter of the sportsmen and women of Ohio,'' he said. He added that he opposes any siphoning off of hunting and fishing license money for "other purposes.''

In his story, Pollick quotes Bruce Knodel, a federation member who served as program moderator as saying that in the end, "both men have our interests or agendas at heart.'' Whoever wins the right to occupy the governor's office, he added, "sportsmen ... of the state of Ohio have scored a victory.''

The also (Ravenna) Record-Courier also covered the event, and noted that both candidates agreed citizens defending themselves against deadly force should be not have to face criminal or civil prosecution (as is enumerated in Rep. Steve Buehrer's HB541).

The Record-Courier notes both also said they were proud of their A rating from the National Rifle Association, but Blackwell pointed out Lee Fisher, who is running as Lieutenant Governor with Strickland, received an F rating while Blackwell's running partner, Tom Raga, got an A rating.

Strickland told the paper that he's "not going to tolerate anyone saying I am against my heritage. No member of the House of Representatives supports guns more then me."

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