(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran)
Former Ohio governor and U.S. House representative Ted Strickland once proudly proclaimed himself to be a gun-rights supporter. But now Strickland, who is in a U.S. Senate Democratic primary race, has done an abrupt about-face and is calling for restrictions on the very gun rights he used to support.
It is a stunning reversal that shows what lengths career politicians will go to in order to win votes and one that reminds us of Barak Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage–a move that Hillary Clinton quickly echoed in an effort to stay in line with the sentiments of her base.
These days gun control is the main focus of the left’s attack on individual rights, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that a Democrat moved left on the issue in order to win. But the real question is: will it help Strickland or hurt him?
Strickland’s record is something a pro-gun politician would be proud of. In 2010, then Gov. Strickland held a hunting rifle in a commercial while an announcer explained his record.
In 1993, when he was a U.S. House member, Strickland and 68 other House Democrats voted against the Brady Bill, which required a waiting period before anyone could buy a handgun and brought about the creation of the instant criminal background check system (NICS) for all gun purchases.
In 1994, Strickland voted against a bill aiming to ban the production and sale of 19 semiautomatic weapons, even going so far as to call the bill a “misdirected effort aimed at law-abiding citizens.”
The NRA had even given Strickland an A-plus rating.
But as David Bergstein, a spokesman of the governor, explained, “Ted’s views about gun violence and gun safety have been deeply influenced as a result of the multiple horrific incidents of gun violence that our country has suffered, and particularly after the Sandy Hook tragedy”
“Just like many Americans, after Sandy Hook, he called for a reassessment of laws in order to help keep Ohioans and all Americans safer,” Bergstein told The Dispatch.
Specifically, Strickland wanted to expand criminal background checks for buyers at gun shows and online, an effort that failed. These days Strickland wants to ban those on the terrorist “no-fly” list from buying guns, a dubious proposition as it raises serious concerns about violating one’s right to due process.
“[Strickland] believes that stopping the epidemic of gun violence is too important for any politician to try and play games with, and his most important priority will always be to keep Ohioans safe,” Bergstein explained.
In 2012, Strickland was also quoted in the Wooster Daily Record when he called for a commission to consider the nation’s gun laws.
“This country is facing a culture of violence that is intolerable and cannot just simply be accepted as a way of life,” Strickland said.
“I think the NRA, I think the entertainment industry, I think the political class all need to sit down, and we need to avoid the extremes,” adding that “there needs to be a recognition that we cannot continue to lose thousands and thousands of innocent people to gun violence.”
What happened to the “misdirected effort aimed at law-abiding citizens?”
Of course, the problem with a politician changing his mind on the big issue of the day is that it seems so disingenuous. Voters remember that he once proudly supported the thing he now condemns, and they may vote instead for the candidate that seems more authentic, regardless of his current stance.
We’ll just have to wait and see. Strickland and Cincinnati city councilman P.G. Sittenfeld will go head-to-head in March and the winner of the primary race will face Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, who will probably have the support of gun-rights organizations as well as the gun owners of the Buckeye state.