Gary Caldwell and Tyson Rathburn share information on the Oho STRONG Bill and their concerns with it with those gathered at the VFW in South Bloomfield

CIRCLEVILLE — Concerned citizens met in South Bloomfield Thursday evening to discuss actions they may take to prevent what they believe to be an infringement on their Second Amendment rights.

Approximately 75 people met at the VFW in South Bloomfield, in a meeting led by Tyson Rathburn, following proposed legislation that restricts access to firearms, specifically in the Strong Ohio Bill as proposed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

During the meeting, Rathburn explained the mission of the group, which is to have the Pickaway County Commissioners sign a resolution making Pickaway County a sanctuary county for gun rights, and to instruct the Sheriff to ignore any state or federal law that infringes upon those.

“They slip this bill in, that bill in and quietly, a little bit at a time they take more gun rights, and I think we as a state and a nation need to stop,” Rathburn said. “It’s our Second Amendment right.”

According to the executive summary compiled by Governor DeWine’s office, the bill achieves several goals.

“The STRONG Ohio bill will protect the public by helping those believed to be a danger to themselves or others due to a severe mental health condition, drug dependency, or chronic alcoholism and will develop a process to retrieve firearms from those legally prohibited from possessing them. The bill will enhance the state and federal background check systems to prevent those who are under a weapons disability from purchasing a firearm. The bill will increase the number of private-sale background checks in Ohio while also protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. And, the bill will decrease gun violence by giving local authorities better tools to hold accountable the small number of people who are typically responsible for most gun-related crimes.

Rathburn said this movement began on social media between Christmas and New Years with the Ohio Stands United page. A handful of other counties have adopted similar resolutions including Jackson County and Lawrence County.

“They’ve laid a guidelines to do what we need to do for our counties,” he added.

Rathburn said the legislation that’s adopted locally makes that county a sanctuary county for gun rights.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people and when you mention sanctuary a lot of people jump to illegal aliens and this has nothing to do with sanctuary county for illegal aliens, this is only Second Amendment,” Rathburn said.

Present at the meeting were three candidates for local office, including Matthew Hafey who is the Republican candidate for Sheriff; Dale Hoover, one of two Republican candidates for a seat with the Pickaway County Commissioner’s office;

and Aaron Adams, one of three candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives 78th District. Each of the men spoke on the subject.

“I support the sanctuary…like Rathburn was saying, they use these things to pick away at your rights and little by little they get them,” Hoover commented. “I think this is the time to come forward and say we have the right to bear arms.”

Hafey said he’s always believed in being able to own and carry a gun and encouraged everyone to reach out to their state representatives and make themselves heard.

“I firmly believe we need to watch out for the rights of everyone because if not they will go away,” Hafey stated. “That’s what this country is founded on. The tyrants across the ocean were trying to take away our rights and so we stood up to them.

“We need to make sure we talk to our legislators to make sure they don’t pass these laws to begin with,” Hafey continued. “I think that’s the best way, to do it is to influence our legislators to prevent them from passing these laws so we don’t have to take the recourse.”

Adams said he was “fully committed to the Second Amendment.”

“It comes down to once we lose this, what comes next,” Adams remarked. “We’ve seen what’s happened in Virginia, the governor threatening to use the National Guard and threatening to take away state and federal funding. They’re going to try to do everything in their power to take away our guns. It really comes down to are we going to stand up and draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough or are we going to let it go on and them slowly go after it.”

Those attending the meeting received a copy of a sample ordinance that was drafted. It reads in part, “the Pickaway County Commissioners will not authorize any county official to expend county funds for the purpose of enforcing illegal and or unconstitutional laws or ordinances that seek to limit law-abiding citizens their right to keep and bear arms.” They also received documents to help gather signatures.”

Rathburn said the group’s ultimate goal is that the Ohio Legislature doesn’t pass any legislation to reduce access to firearms as presented in the Constitution but if it does pass that the commissioners approve their ordinance.

“My goal is to go ahead and be proactive and put the local legislation in place just in case,” Rathburn added. “If Ohio doesn’t pass it, then it’s irrelevant and we don’t need it. But if it does get voted on and passed Pickaway County is protected and that’s our goal.”

As far as next steps, Rathburn said they’d likely have a future meeting, likely in the Circleville area in the next two to four weeks.

“We don’t know where or exactly when yet but it’ll be probably be in Circleville,” he continued. “All the information will be on our Facebook page, Ohio Stands United Pickaway County. We’re going to mix it up a bit and have either a weekend or a different time so everyone can make at least one meeting.”

In an email to Rathburn, Brian Stewart, Pickaway County Commissioner, said that the commissioners have taken action to allow CCW in their office and meeting room and that he firmly believes in the Second Amendment. Stewart is a gun owner himself and he said that he is a “strong supporter of gun rights.”

“We have focused our efforts on urging the state and federal government to continue expanding gun rights, not restricting them as they’re attempting in Virginia,” Stewart said. “If Ohio, or the federal government, ever attempted to pass laws which would restrict our rights or force confiscation, I’m sure we would look very closely at all steps we could take locally to thwart those efforts. We’ve seen the steps taken by some counties in Virginia and will continue to discuss the options we have in Ohio.”

Rathburn also encouraged those in attendance to gather signatures to present to the commissioners, including passing out forms to better organize it.

“I was asked to get on the calendar to have a meeting with the commissioners but I don’t want to show up with 100 signatures,” Rathburn said. “I want to walk in with a stack so in the back of their head they see that Pickaway County is serious.”

Rathburn said for a first night they had a great turn out.

“I think we had people openly discussing the topic, which is good,” he said. “Our goal is to get the three commissioners to sign off on this. The feedback I’ve gotten is they’re not against it they just want more information. We’ve gotten a lot of interest from the public.”

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