DARKE COUNTY — Politicians and advocacy groups in the Buckeye State shared their reactions to President Obama’s executive orders on guns, announced Tuesday.
Three Republican candidates vying for the 8th District Congressional seat vacated by former Rep. John Boehner expressed their thoughts on the president’s moves.
Ohio Sen. Bill Beagle said, “I am outraged about President Obama’s executive order attacking our Second Amendment rights by, once again, subverting Congress and acting against the will of the American people. This is just another disturbing example of this President’s willful disregard for the American Constitution and blatant overreach of executive power.”
Beagle added, “The Second Amendment is a fundamental right afforded to American citizens by our Founding Fathers and must be defended so that we in turn have the freedom to defend ourselves. I am proud of my proven track record on Second Amendment issues and in Congress, I will continue to fight passionately to protect our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
Ohio Rep. Tim Derickson responded, “Decisions such as these should absolutely be decided by the United States Congress and not by the pen of the executive branch. My record on the Second Amendment speaks for itself.”
Candidate J.D. Winteregg said, “Once again, President Obama is attempting to unconstitutionally circumvent the legislative process through executive orders to impose gun control and his radical, Leftist ideology on law-abiding American citizens.”
“It’s funny that the urgency of this issue didn’t matter until after his tropical, Hawaiian vacation on the taxpayer dime,” Winteregg added. “When elected to represent the people of Ohio’s 8th District in Congress, I’ll fight the Far Left as they continue trying to strip us of our rights, and I’ll work to ensure our Second Amendment rights are respected and preserved.”
Among Ohio Democrats, reaction to the president’s announcement found much more favor.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, hoping to face off against Republican Sen. Rob Portman in this fall’s senate race, posted on his Facebook page: “Where I am from in Southeastern Ohio it is commonsense not to let weapons fall into the hands of criminals, terrorists or the mentally ill, and I think these policies will help keep Americans safer.”
“But my underlying frustration,” he added, “is that Congress has not responded to changing times and an escalating epidemic of gun violence by taking action on its own. Background checks, stopping terrorists from buying guns and increased mental health reporting are all consistent with our Second Amendment rights, and after so many horrific tragedies there is no excuse for Congress’s failure to address these issues.”
Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, running against Strickland in the Democrat’s senate primary, also posted on Facebook, saying, “Glad that the President is announcing executive orders today to expand background checks and step up the enforcement of existing gun laws. While we are taking steps in the right direction, it is very clear that we still have a long way to go.”
Sittenfeld took a shot at Strickland’s past record on firearms, saying, “The epidemic of gun violence plaguing our nation won’t be fixed by executive orders — we need Congress to pass meaningful laws to help end the violence. That’s why we need to elect a U.S. Senator from Ohio who hasn’t spent their entire career being cozy with and beholden to the gun lobby and the NRA — but who has instead pledged to fight for commonsense gun safety reforms.”
The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence issued a statement on its website (www.ohioceasefire.org) in support of the president, saying, “Ohioans are living in a culture of fear, plagued by gun violence and perpetuated by the gun lobby. Polling shows that 90 [percent] of Americans support background checks on all guns sold in this country to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Despite the overwhelming popularity for this common sense, life saving measure, our state and federal elected officials have failed to pass new laws that would expand background checks.”
“President Obama does not have the authority to create new laws. That is the role of our legislative bodies. The upcoming executive actions related to clarifying who is ‘engaged in the business’ of selling guns and therefore perform background checks will enforce existing laws already on the books, and make our families safer.”
“While the gun lobby is spouting over the top rhetoric in anticipation of these actions, the bottom line is that these regulations will increase public safety and truly individual sellers will not be impacted.”
“While this this action will save lives, but it won’t stop all shootings. This is a victory for the gun violence prevention movement and Ohioans owe thanks the President for his leadership in taking action. Continued action by advocates and elected officials who are courageous enough to stand up to the gun lobby here Ohio is necessary to continue to reduce gun violence.”
However, Executive Director Dean Rieck of the Buckeye Firearms Association (www.buckeyefirearms.org), a gun-rights advocacy group, characterized the president’s executive orders as “an end run around Congress.”
“The idea to speed up background checks isn’t bad, but most of the President’s proposals open the door to abuse and arbitrary persecution of law-abiding citizens while ignoring the reality that criminals don’t abide by the current rules and won’t abide by modified rules either,” he said.
Rieck says the president’s determination to close the so-called “gunshow loophole” has the potential to “make criminals out of hobbyists instead of catching actual criminals.”
“The attempt to close this fictitious loophole by requiring background checks for sales by those who may engage in as few as two transactions, serves only to intimidate law-abiding gun owners,” he said.
“I don’t fault anyone for wanting to reduce crime,” he added, “But the fact is, these executive actions demonstrate a lack of understanding about where criminals get firearms and they serve only to erect road blocks for ordinary people to exercise a Constitutionally protected right. These proposals will not affect crime in any way.”
Erik Martin may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.