It’s that time again, and I’m not talking about Christmas (although we’re huge fans of the Christmas season here at OGO!).
Every two years after an election year, one Ohio General Assembly comes to a close and a new General Assembly gets sworn in. And as this happens, all the bills from the previous General Assembly die, and new gun bills are introduced by newly elected legislators.
So it’s time for us to go over where we were, where we are and where we want to go here at Ohio Gun Owners!
(NOTE: This is the first email in a three-part series that I hope you will enjoy!)
I’ll be honest with you: this is probably going to be a long email.
And it SHOULD be, because this email is a list of your accomplishments over the last two years, so I hope you’re as damn proud of it as we are here at Ohio Gun Owners.
So grab a cup of coffee or a tumbler of bourbon, sit back, and enjoy the read.
January 6, 2021: Setting the Stage
When the 134th General Assembly started on January 5, 2021, everyone was on edge.
I know I was.
I wasn’t on edge because of the Ohio elections, because Republicans had once again won a supermajority in Columbus.
The cause for concern, rather, was because nobody knew if Trump or Biden would be in the White House come inauguration day.
But we sure weren’t going to sit back on our butts and wait around to find out.
Instead, Ohio Gun Owners got to work preparing our legislative program so that we could be maximally effective, no matter who lived in the White House after inauguration day.
And just like a lot of you, we could sense that something was going bad on January 6th.
That’s why, on January 5, I made the decision to unpublished the Ohio Gun Owners Facebook page, to make sure that one of our most powerful mobilization tools could not be attacked or hijacked, come what may on January 6th.
We kept the Ohio Gun Owners facebook page unpublished on January 5th, 6th and 7th for this deliberate purpose.
Because of that decision, unlike many other Facebook pages, we were able to maintain this powerful tool that we have built up over the years.
Good thing we did, too, because we were definitely going to need it in the two years to follow.
So when China Joe Biden moved into the White House, we immediately went to work.
Mike DeWine – A Winning Loser
In fall of 2019 after the terrible August 4th shooting in downtown Dayton, Mike DeWine introduced his ‘Strong Ohio’ gun control bill (SB221) through a very willing host, State Senator Matt Dolan.
OGO’s army defeated that bill in a big way before the end of the 133rd General Assembly.
Not only did we defeat the DeWine/Dolan gun-control bill, but OGO Nation instead came back and hammered Stand-Your-Ground through the General Assembly by repealing Ohio’s “duty to retreat” law, and forced DeWine to sign the bill in late 2020.
So when January of 2021 rolled around, Mike DeWine knew he had to get sneaky if he was going to get any part of his gun-control agenda passed.
But we watch everything that happens in Columbus with eagle eyes.
Very near the start of the 134th General Assembly, Mike DeWine unveiled his two-year state budget in the House of Representatives – that would fund government for the next two years.
But it wasn’t just a funding bill.
You see, every state budget is chock full of the sitting governor’s wish list of policy items – it’s like their own personal Christmas tree that they put forward, hoping the General Assembly approves it.
Every governor does it – the budget HAS to pass through the legislature, so that wasn’t new.
What was new, however, was Governor DeWine slipping parts of his ‘Strong Ohio’ gun-control proposal into the state budget.
The bad news for DeWine, however, is that Ohio Gun Owners exists.
Once we laid eyes on the budget and discovered his little ruse, we banged the OGO war drums and began mobilizing gun owners statewide to shut it down.
Like clockwork, House Republicans saw what was happening and, not wanting to take the fall for DeWine, stripped his gun control from the budget bill.
That was OGO’s first big WIN of 2021.
The Gun Bills I – SAPA
In the middle of the budget fight, Ohio Gun Owners was gearing up for the introduction of our pro-gun bills, namely Constitutional Carry and the Second Amendment Preservation Act (SAPA law).
First out of the gate to be introduced was House Bill 62, OGO’s SAPA bill by Representative Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta)!
House Bill 62 was modeled directly from legislation that I was simultaneously helping work through the Missouri legislature at the time – a strong version of it.
(Note: Since that time, SAPA law DID pass in Missouri and was signed into law by Missouri Governor Mike Parson, and has already been successfully defended in the Missouri Supreme Court and is currently winning against Joe Biden’s DOJ challenge in Federal court, as well!)
Truly, the Second Amendment Preservation Act is a robust, constitutional law that protects the rights of Ohioans by preventing Ohio’s law enforcement community from being commandeered by federal government to enforce unconstitutional federal gun-control.
The Gun Bills II – Constitutional Carry
After the Second Amendment Preservation Act came Constitutional Carry, and we knew this was going to be a big one.
House Bill 227 was introduced for Ohio Gun Owners by veteran pro-gun champion Representative Tom Brinkman, with Representative Kris Jordan as the Joint Sponsor.
Now, if you’ve been part of Ohio Gun Owners, you know this issue is near and dear to our hearts.
In fact, Constitutional Carry is the signature bill that Ohio Gun Owners was formulated to push, and this bill (or a version of it) has been introduced every General Assembly since the mid-‘90s!
But we knew things were different this time around.
You see, when I first started in gun rights activism, Constitutional Carry was only on the books in two states: Vermont and Alaska.
As a matter of fact, Constitutional Carry didn’t used to be called Constitutional Carry, it used to be called Vermont Carry because Vermont used to be the only state that had it!
Constitutional Carry began barnstorming its way across America, and by the end of 2020, sixteen states had some version of it on the books!
We knew then it was our best chance to put Constitutional Carry on the books in Ohio.
So OGO went to work on an aggressive co-sponsor campaign to get as many pro-gun Representatives in the Ohio House on board in order to show strength going into the committee process.
And because OGO’s grassroots army totally bombarded the House with emails, calls and petitions, HB227 received 20 co-sponsors – more than it had ever gotten since the bill was first introduced in 1995!
I could feel Ohio’s days of regulating our right of self-defense start to shrink.
I could feel it, you could feel it, and the legislators themselves could feel it, but House Leadership had other plans…
Shortly after SAPA law and Constitutional Carry were introduced, OGO members started lobbing massive amounts of phone calls, petitions, and emails to their Representatives demanding movement on the bills.
Loychik’s SAPA bill, HB62, was sent to the State and Local Government Oversight Committee which was chaired by pro-gun Representative Scott Wiggam.
To state the obvious, it is a good thing to have a pro-gun bill sent to a pro-gun committee, because right after he got the bill in his committee, Chairman Wiggam began hearings on it and by May 7th, the bill had already received two hearings.
But Constitutional Carry (HB227), on the other hand, was sent to the House Government Oversight Committee.
And that wasn’t a good thing, because in the 134th General Assembly, everyone knew that Government Oversight was House Speaker Bob Cupp’s kill committee – the committee where bills that House Leadership don’t want are sent to die.
Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way
But in all honesty, if getting Constitutional Carry passed in Ohio was easy, it would have passed into law before Ohio Gun Owners arrived on the scene.
And also, in full disclosure, Ohio Gun Owners loves to brawl with the politicians in Columbus.
The reason why is simple: the politicians are elected as the people’s employees, and when they refuse to do their jobs, we take pure, seraphic joy in our jobs of hauling their butts out behind the political woodshed and giving them a little Proverbs 13:24.
So of course, when Constitutional Carry got referred to Government Oversight, we broke out OGO’s shiny, powerful, political bullwhip and got to work.
OGO’s Famous Pressure Campaign
Predictably, the House Government Oversight did to HB227 what it had done to the previous Constitutional Carry bill (Rep. Ron Hood’s HB178): they sat on it and refused to hold hearings.
After MONTHS of hearing from gun owners, gun owners who at that exact same time watched Constitutional Carry pass in FIVE MORE states in 2021, the Government Oversight Committee and House Leadership still showed no signs of wanting to move forward with Constitutional Carry.
But Ohio Gun Owners is like the proverbial card shark you’d see in an old Western movie, only WORSE:
not only do we have cool derringers, but politically speaking we STUFF our sleeves with a whole bag of political tricks that we love to use for our members.
So we sleeved out one of our favorites: direct contact.
You see, the legislators in Columbus are pure professionals at NOT doing what their districts want them to do or what they promised to do at election time.
If they weren’t, we’d have good education programs, low and decreasing taxes, stable economies, intact families, a powerful middle class and gender mutilation surgery in Ohio would be illegal.
But politicians lie, so we don’t have those things.
One of the ways they don’t do the job they were elected to do is by directing their legislative staff respond to phone calls and emails with the same, canned response: “Representative Whoever will keep your concerns in mind when they consider this legislation.”
It really is one of the oldest tricks in the book, a trick I know well because I used to be a legislative staffer myself!
Here’s the problem: thousands of OGO members were contacting the committee members telling them to move HB227, and they were all getting the same, canned response from legislative staffers as to why the committee wasn’t doing their job.
So we joyfully committed what they call in ‘professional’ lobbying circles a “great big fat NO-NO” and put citizens directly in touch with the legislators on the committee and Speaker Bob Cupp himself, using their personal contact information.
Armed with direct access to the very legislators stonewalling Constitutional Carry, OGO’s army of freedom-loving gentleman and gentlewomen went to work.
And just as sure as the sun rises in the East, Government Oversight Committee Chairman Shane Wilkin started holding hearings rapid fire – four of them in a row!
It was almost like the political version of what my favorite Waffle House cook used to tell me, “Mister, if I didn’t love breakin’ eggs, I couldn’t make you the best omelets!”
OGO loves making omelets.
That’s why, on the very last committee meeting before summer recess, we almost got the bill voted out, but Wilkin cancelled the vote right before the committee started.
(Keep in mind, we were continuing to heap pressure on the committee as state after state were passing the bill into law all over America at this same time!)
When the General Assembly went on Summer Recess, we weren’t fazed a bit.
Over the summer, while the Radical Left was shutting down America over the China Virus, we went to work preparing to crank the pressure dial up to 11 once they returned.
Once the committee resumed legislative action in late September, our direct mail, text messaging, email and petition campaigns were on full blast – we even deployed radio and digital ads into targeted districts, ramping up pressure to pass Constitutional Carry.
One of the major obstacles all along to passing the bill through committee was the Vice-Chairwoman of the committee, Andrea White (R-Kettering).
All along, White consistently drug her feet, refusing to tell constituents whether she was in or out. By the day the vote came around, White took a leave of absence from the committee and was replaced by “Pizza Al” Cutrona.
When we learned Cutrona was going to be the new vice-chair and that Angela White was off the committee, we immediately suspected that Cutrona was being brought on to run an amendment to the bill in order to water it down.
Finding out we were right, at the last minute we encouraged OGO’s members to contact him and demand that he refuse any orders by leadership to water down HB227 in committee that morning.
Dozens of OGO members responded within minutes, and several of them relayed to us that Cutrona was answering his phone and pretending to be a pizza restaurant instead of their elected representative!
Sadly, our efforts were too little and too late.
Our original bill, as written, would have changed Ohio to a “Concealed Weapons License” system instead of a “Concealed Hangun License” system like many other states have done, because we don’t believe government should be able to tell you which legally owned firearms you choose to protect yourself with.
But Cutrona’s last-minute amendment succeeded, and HB227 was voted out of committee without changing Ohio to a CWL system.
From there, the bill was sent to the full House for a vote in late October, but from this day until his last day, Representative Al Cutrona will forever be “Pizza Al” for his stunt.
The Floor Vote
Many times, after a bill is voted out of committee, it goes right to the floor for a vote, sometimes even within a few hours after passing out of the Rules Committee.
But House Leadership still didn’t want to move HB227 on the floor.
In fact, it took several weeks of political bombardment from gun owners before Speaker Bob Cupp-cake and the “leadership team” put HB227 on the House Session agenda for vote on November 17, 2021.
Rob and I were sitting in the House gallery that day.
We’ve never lied before and we aren’t about to start now, so I’d be lying if I said we were not smiling at some of the Representatives, knowing that they were bickering and gnashing their teeth at the thought of having to vote on Constitutional Carry.
Of course, OGO kept up our pressure campaign all the way to the final minute, making sure notorious RINOs like Andrea White, Kylie Koehler and others were expected to vote YES when the bill came up for a vote, whether they liked it or not!
Now, they say that if you want a friend in politics to get a dog, because politicians will you sell you out at one point or another.
Now, I’ve already got a highly trained German Shepherd, so I don’t need any more dogs and I also have eight kids.
But one guy who IS a friend of Ohio Gun Owners in the Ohio General Assembly is Representative Nino Vitale, a pro fighter for the Second Amendment in Columbus.
Representative Vitale, like you and me, was totally pi$$ed that the Government Oversight watered down HB227 by keeping Ohio’s antiquated Concealed Handgun License instead of switching over to a modern Concealed Weapons License.
Like you and me, Nino Vitale despises the fact that you are a FELON in Ohio if you put a rifle in the gun rack in the back window of your truck because of Ohio’s pathetic CHL law.
So once HB227 was brought to the Ohio House floor, Representative Nino Vitale stood up did what he does better than anyone, he shouted over the noise and made a motion to amend to try to amend the bill back to the pre-watered-down version!
It was fabulous to watch in person, and there’s not many people that have the chutzpah that Nino Vitale has!
But the RINO entrenchment in Columbus runs deep. One of those bloated, entrenched political carcasses is wannabe-Republican Representative Don Jones.
Dumb Donny, as we disaffectionately nicknamed him, waddled to his microphone and made a motion to table Vitale’s amendment in order to kill it.
Jumping at the chance to stop part of Constitutional Carry, enough House Democrats joined Jones and his band of RINOs and killed the Vitale Amendment, effectively maintaining Ohio’s current outdated and unnecessary CHL system.
(Note: If you’re one of those 39 RINO’s reading this right now, please know that we will NEVER forget that, and we will 100% be educating your voters in a future Republican primary)
Immediately after that vote, other votes were taken on Red Flag Gun Confiscation and Universal Gun Registration amendments, which were all soundly defeated.
Kyle Koehler, the Most Pathetic of all Ohio Legislators Ever
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about one very intriguing amendment that was offered that day, offered by Democrat Representative Brigid Kelly.
You see, for years, “Republican” Representative Kyle Koehler has been trying to put road-blocks in front of Constitutional Carry – he’s just one of those guys.
First starters, Kyle consistently refused to cosponsor the bills, which is one of the easiest and most basic things a real, pro-gun Republican Representative can do.
But far worse than that, Koehler frequently and routinely tried to run blocking amendments on Constitutional Carry that would’ve forced FFL’s and gun dealers to be held responsible for making sure firearm purchasers know Ohio’s self-defense and use of force laws!
Now, OGO fully supports the idea that gun owners should get training and learn Ohio’s self-defense and use-of-force laws.
But we totally reject that that responsibility is the duty of the firearm seller – it’s the duty of the BUYER to go get educated and get training!
And, if the amendment would have passed, it would have opened the Left’s proverbial Pandora’s box for the future, opening up FFL’s and gun dealers to all kinds of future regulations and restrictions!
Sadly, after he tried unsuccessfully to have his amendment added in committee, Kyle Koehler shamefully went to Democrat Brigid Kelly and asked her to run his amendment for her on the House floor, and she readily agreed.
Thankfully, in the end, the Koehler/Kelly amendment was defeated, but not without some turncoat Republicans like Kyle, Andrea White and others voting to screw over FFL’s in the process.
Once the amendment battles were over, HB227 was brought up for a final passage vote, and just like we predicted, the entire Republican caucus voted for the bill and passed it by a vote of 60-32.
That was all because of the tremendous work of OGO members and supporters, who poured so much time into our action campaigns and took consistent action!
Here’s a lesson: the battle to pass a bill always happens BEFORE the bill makes it to the floor. Once a bill is on the floor, the bill is going to pass nearly every time.
But of course, that was only half the battle. The bill then went over to the Ohio Senate.
The Senate and Senate Bill 215
Before the Senate even got their hands on the House-passed HB227 they had their own version of Constitutional Carry, Senate Bill 215 from Senator Terry Johnson.
Once both bills were in the Senate, we immediately got to work mobilizing OGO’s army to contact their members of the Ohio Senate, urging them to move Constitutional Carry.
You see, at this point, both bills were sitting in Chairman Frank Hoagland’s Veterans and Public Safety committee,
And so the committee meetings started very quickly.
We met with every member of the committee including Hoagland himself, and received assurances from the Senators that the Republican side was in full support of Constitutional Carry.
We learned during those meetings that the only thing stopping Hoagland and the committee from going full-speed ahead on Constitutional Carry was Senate President Matt Huffman and his leadership team.
Just like with Bob Cupp-cake in the House, Matt Huffman was holding the bill up on purpose.
So OGO nation did what they do best and got to work hammering on the Senate leadership team to stop holding Constitutional Carry up and pass it immediately.
Again, it worked, and by December 14th, the committee had held several hearings on Senate Bill 215, passing it out again with a weakening amendment, stripping many good parts out of the bill.
Of course, just like we did in the House, OGO testified in that committee on your behalf!
The very next day, Matt Huffman put SB 215 on the Senate session agenda and the full Senate passed the bill by a vote of 23-8 – with Benedict Arnold Senator Jerry Cirino becoming the single Republican in the entire General Assembly to vote against Constitutional Carry.
OGO and gun owners across Ohio will not forget his treacherous vote. In fact, shortly after the vote, we collected publicly available information on folks who donated to his political campaign and sent each of them a letter informing them of Cirino’s vote and encouraging them to do their homework before the next time he comes to them begging for campaign cash.
By doing so, OGO sent a message to all Republicans that a vote against our gun rights will result in political pain like no one has ever seen in Ohio before.
Two bills, two chambers
Now that Senate Bill 215 had passed the Senate and was sent over to the House, gun owners were put in an interesting position.
Both chambers had passed their own bill, and now each chamber was sitting on the other chamber’s bill.
We love politically target-rich environments, so we engaged grassroots gun owners again and begun pounding both the House and the Senate to pass Senate Bill 215 and House Bill 227!
We had to because the clock was ticking: there were very few session days left between mid-December and the May Republican primary.
We knew that our best chance for success on Constitutional Carry was to get it on DeWine’s desk before he would have to face the voters in a Republican Primary election.
So we put OGO’s ARMY to work.
The first to move was Senate Bill 215, which was then in the House Government Oversight committee.
Sadly, just like they did to House Bill 227, the House Government Oversight Committee once again watered the bill down so that it essentially mirrored House Bill 227.
But the bill still repealed the government mandate for a permission slip to carry a handgun for self-defense, so OGO made our protest known for future election purposes and continued our support for the underlying bill.
On March 2nd, 2022, Senate Bill 215 passed out of the House Government Oversight committee, got passed by the House the same day, and was then sent over to the Senate for a concurrence vote – totally passing the Ohio General Assembly for the first time in Ohio history!
With the bill out of the General Assembly and sent to Governor DeWine, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring attention to two total warriors for gun owners in the Buckeye State: OGO Constitutional Carry bill sponsor Tom Brinkman and OGO future bill sponsor Representative Jennifer Gross.
Only two Representatives in the entire Ohio General Assembly voted against the House’s watering down of Senate Bill 215 from its original version: Tom Brinkman and Jennifer Gross.
Sure, both of them voted for HB227 on final passage, but only these two had the guts to make the statement that they disagreed with the fact that the Ohio General Assembly was passing less than what Ohio gun owners like you DESERVE.
So remember their names for all eternity: Tom Brinkman and Jennifer Gross. God didn’t make many like them.
DeWine: Veto or Sign?
Victory was in sight. All that was left standing in the way of gun owners and Constitutional Carry was Mike DeWine.
On one hand, he had signed Stand-your-Ground into law in 2020. But on the other, he had just been pushing for gun control in the state budget he unveiled the year before.
In 2019 after the Dayton murders, he told the fake news media at the Columbus Disgrace, “I don’t want to see any gun bills on my desk until we pass Strong Ohio (his gun-control agenda).”
We didn’t know where DeWine would ultimately fall on the bill, but we knew one thing for sure: OGO’s army had to up the ante and give it everything we had.
And boy did you ever.
OGO members and supporters lobbed emails, phone calls and petitions into Governor DeWine’s office with the largest engagement actions we have ever seen on any piece of legislation!
In fact, OGO member even messaged DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted’s staff, calling through them like a rolodex and demanding that the Governor sign Senate Bill 215.
On March 14, 2022, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Constitutional Carry into law!
It was a victory that echoed all across America, as Ohio arguably became the first major battleground state in the whole nation to repeal the license mandate.
As of June 13, 2022, Ohioans are able to enjoy carrying a handgun concealed without having to beg an increasingly-tyrannically government for permission to exercise that right.
Put bluntly, it only succeeded because of your hard work and dedication to freedom, FIRST. It was the ingredient that made this all possible.
Every donation you sent us, every membership you entrusted to us, every email you responded to, every communication you sent to your legislators, every phone call you made and every petition you signed and submitted made the difference.
Ohio Gun Owners did not start the fight for Constitutional Carry in Ohio.
The Original Guy who started the fight for Constitutional Carry is former-Representative Ron Hood.
If you’ve followed Ohio Gun Owners for any period of time, the name Ron Hood probably sounds familiar.
That’s because Ron Hood was OGO’s bill sponsor for Constitutional Carry from when we first started in 2016 up through 2020, when Ron Hood was term-limited out of the Ohio House of Representatives.
And here’s why Ron Hood is the OG of Constitutional Carry: Hood first introduced Constitutional Carry in the Ohio House way back in 1995, when he first got elected as a punk kid from Youngstown!
Back then, only ONE state had Constitutional Carry – Vermont.
Got Here As Fast As We Could
So while Ohio Gun Owners may not have been here at the beginning of this fight nearly 30 years ago when Ron Hood first introduced it, we are damn proud to get here here, come alongside, grow OGO into an army and bulldog this bill all the way across the finish line.
And we couldn’t be more proud or more happy to stand side by side to celebrate this victory with you now.
Our hats are off to you, our members and supporters. We are so thankful for you!
So while Ohio Gun Owners may not have been here at the beginning of this fight nearly 30 years ago when Ron Hood first introduced it, we are damn proud to have gotten here, come alongside, grow OGO into an army and champion this bill all the way across the finish line.
And we couldn’t be more proud or more happy to stand side by side to celebrate this victory with you now.
Hats off to you, OGO Nation!
This is Part One of our three-part 134th General Assembly wrap-up: stay tuned for the next part in our series as we dive into the 2022 elections and the road ahead!
Chris Dorr, Director
Ohio Gun Owners