I don’t know why a moderator would even bother bringing up Second Amendment issues or gun control legislation during a Democratic debate, since there’s rarely a significant difference when two or more Democrats get together to talk about guns.
This week’s Democratic gubernatorial debate in Ohio was no exception. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley were on the same page when it came to the new Constitutional Carry law signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, with the debate moderator setting the tone for the anti-gun politicians.
ISSUE: Even as gun violence is a major problem in Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed bills such as stand-your-ground and permitless concealed carry that weaken the state’s gun laws. How would you address gun violence in Ohio?
Whaley: The mayor described an event after the Aug. 4, 2019 mass shooting in her city that killed nine people and injured 27 more at which mourners implored Gov. Mike DeWine to “do something.”
“Never in my worst nightmare did I think the thing he was going to do was actually make it worse,” she said.
Whaley said she would push back against radical gun bills that would make Ohioans less safe and she would fight for universal background checks for gun buyers, something nine out of 10 Ohioans support.
Cranley: “I agree with Nan, Mike DeWine did make it worse. Signing that bill (permitless concealed carry) as well as stand your ground is a stain on his soul.”
Cranley said he sees gun violence as a public-health emergency and pledged he would fight for universal background checks for gun buyers. He said many gun suicides and much inner-city violence can be traced to illegal guns and he believes background checks can help cut the number of illegal guns on the streets.
So the two Democrats were able to offer up their talking point soundbites, with little-to-no distinction between the pair. And of course their answers were received uncritically from the debate moderator, who failed to ask any pointed follow-ups like:
- If you believe it should be a crime for legal gun owners to carry a firearm without a government-issued license, what should the penalty be? Should it be a misdemeanor or a felony? A fine or prison time?
- If you think that a license is necessary before a legal gun owner can bear arms, do you think possessing a gun in the home without a license should be a crime as well? If not, why not?
- Both of you are in favor of “universal background checks.” Can you explain how a background check requirement on private gun sales could be proactively enforced by police?
Those aren’t “gotcha” questions, but they would have forced Whaley and Cranley out of their pre-scripted responses and allowed the voting public to get a deeper understanding of what the Democrats’ anti-gun policies mean in practice. To hear the mayors talk, the only thing that needs to be done in order to reduce violent crime is to add a few non-violent, possessory offenses to the Ohio statutes, and unfortunately neither they nor the debate moderator ever acknowledged the harm done by these laws that criminalize the exercise of a constitutionally protected civil right.
What did Ohio voters learn from this week’s Democratic debate when it comes to gun control and the Second Amendment? Not much. They already knew that Whaley and Cranley were opposed to the new Constitutional Carry law, so hearing the mayors’ talking points was hardly enlightening. A few tough follow-ups would have gone a long way in helping flesh out just how far the candidates are willing to go (at least publicly) to restrict our rights in the name of public safety, but thanks to the moderator’s milquetoast inquiries, the Democrats were able to get away with offering up nothing but soundbite solutions.