Nearly 50 protesters from across Ohio demonstrated on August 12 in favor of the Second Amendment during the Columbus stop of a national Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) circuit calling for more gun control laws. Founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, MAIG has a checkered past in the Buckeye State.
The rally’s attendance appeared to be almost entirely made up of MAIG staffers, public officials and their employees, and local media. Photographs from the Columbus MAIG bus tour stop can be viewed on Media Trackers Ohio’s Flickr photostream.
The anti-gun lobby has drawn widespread criticism for its “No More Names Tour.” a project meant to capitalize on the December 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. At the Dodge Park Community Recreation Center rally, Columbus mayor Michael Coleman (D) and other local officials complained about the demise of a proposed national firearm registry database, the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to a bill proposed by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV).
At a previous “No More Names” event, MAIG identified violent criminals including Boston Marathon domestic terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev, California serial cop-killer Christopher Dorner, and Columbus residents Emmanuel Gatewood and Kourtney Hahn – who were shot after firing at police – as “victims” of gun violence.
Mayor Coleman claimed Ohio’s gun violence rate is so high that the state is a “donor state for gun violence,” meaning Ohio gun violence spills over into neighboring states. He explained to the event’s attendees that it was “too easy” for individuals to legally purchase firearms.
Coleman warned that “gangsters, mentally ill, and domestic abusers” could purchase guns, insisting they are able to do so without any background checks at gun shows, through classified advertisements or over the Internet.
State representative and leader of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus) echoed Coleman’s rhetoric, warning of outlaw gun dealers selling “weapons of war” “from the trunks of their cars.”
Carlee Soto, the sister of murdered Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria Soto, was the event’s keynote speaker. Soto blamed “deadly loopholes” in the nation’s laws for last winter’s shootings in Newtown.
Soto quickly noted that stricter gun laws would not have prevented the shootings, in which Adam Lanza broke multiple state and federal firearms laws to obtain the weapons used to commit his additional crimes. However, she asked rhetorically, “if we can just save one life, don’t we have an obligation” to further restrict law-abiding Americans’ Constitutional rights.
The degree of paranoia fueled by the event was evident. Two elderly female attendees, both carrying posters provided to them by President Barack Obama’s campaign organization, Organizing for America, confided during an interview with Media Trackers that they “didn’t trust those guys,” referring to the pro-Second Amendment protesters.
“They might come after me,” one attendee said, explaining their unwillingness to provide their names.
Additionally, the Columbus Police Department saw fit to allocate 3 cruisers, several armed officers, and a police SUV to monitor for signs of unrest or violence. The only threat of violence involved a passing motorist who stopped to argue with pro-Second Amendment demonstrators; police intervened after the driver threatened to run over protesters.
Protesters were peaceful but less than enthused about the continued influence of Mayor Bloomberg’s MAIG in Ohio politics.
“We just wanted to show our support for the Second Amendment, and show the people from New York—who have their own set of policies—that people in Ohio… we like our policies, they work, and we want to keep them,” Brett Pucillo, a high-school English teacher from Youngstown, explained.
“Keep your politics, we’ll keep our Second Amendment,” he added.
Prior to visiting Columbus, MAIG’s “No More Names” tour stopped in Cincinnati. The final Ohio stop is in Akron on August 14.