Ohio editorial board needs reality check on guns

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Most people generally only pay attention to the editorials in their local newspaper and maybe a couple of others from the region. As such, they may not realize just how prevalent the anti-Second Amendment attitude really is among such boards.


Since I tend to read a bunch of stuff on guns, I see them. Just about all of them, really.

Almost universally, they don’t value gun rights and they don’t understand a great deal about the debate they’ve decided to insert themselves into. What’s worse, though, is they use polling and studies, citing them without understanding them, to make them seem authoritative.

A particularly egregious example reared its head out of Ohio earlier this week.

How out of touch are Ohio’s Republican lawmakers?

They oppose common-sense ideas supported by 70 to 95% of Ohio citizens — including many Republicans — just to please conservative extremists who line their pockets with campaign cash.

And they arrogantly dismiss concerns from fellow elected leaders who have the audacity to pitch ideas for curbing gun violence in their communities.

It’s a sad time in Ohio.

A USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll of Ohio voters conducted in July show that our gerrymandered lawmakers are out of step with Ohioans on a wide range of issues, including abortion (58% support) and recreational marijuana (58% support). The gulf is largest for common-sense gun reforms, with strong majorities supporting mandatory background checks (92%), red-flag laws (75%), safe storage laws (75%) and mandatory training for concealed carry (88%). Amazingly, 88% of Republicans support background checks.

Support for such modest gun reform is hardly surprising with mass shootings claiming lives every week across our country and violence out of control in some cities, especially Cleveland and Columbus where high-profile incidents occur too regularly.


The problem is that this particular editorial board needs a reality check.

First, let’s understand something about gun polling. These are quick questions that often don’t reflect the legislation being discussed beyond the most superficial levels. When respondents find out some of what’s in these proposals, the support drops. In fact, we’ve seen it with these particular measures.

Yet even if these numbers weren’t subject to that–they are, but let’s pretend they aren’t for the sake of argument–there’s another factor being completely ignored.

How important is this to the voters in question?

People prioritize issues. There are some measures that are dealbreakers for them and others that they might prefer to see a different way, but they won’t lose sleep over it.

With guns, what we’ve historically seen is that pro-gun voters are highly motivated over the issue, but anti-gun voters don’t. Further, few anti-gun voters are inclined to vote for a Republican who happened to support gun control.

Yet they could lose support from a very motivated base.

As such, polling that simply says there’s some kind of support for a bit of legislation is largely irrelevant. If that support won’t translate into votes, there’s no point in doing so.


Couple those two facts together and it’s pretty obvious why things are the way they are and why Ohio Republicans aren’t going to trip over themselves because an editorial board thinks they should.

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