Former Ohio state senator explains why governing ‘in the pocket of the NRA’ ‘endangered people across the state’

A man with a NRA cap holds his gun while people with their AR-15-style rifles pray during a blessing ceremony at the Sanctuary Church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania on February 28, 2018.

caption
A man with a NRA cap holds his gun while people with their AR-15-style rifles pray during a blessing ceremony at the Sanctuary Church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania on February 28, 2018.
source
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

  • An ex-Ohio lawmaker wrote in a column for Cleveland.com that he regrets aligning himself with the National Rifle Association while he was in office to advance his political career.
  • Marc Dann, a Democrat, said he even voted for legislation he believed would endanger “people across the state” because he feared the political consequences of opposing gun groups.
  • The NRA called Dann’s column “a desperate attention-seeking ploy by a has-been politician.”

A former Ohio lawmaker says he regrets making a “devil’s bargain” while he was in office to adopt pro-gun positions and appease the National Rifle Association, even though their views often made him “uncomfortable.”

Marc Dann, a Democrat who served in the Ohio Senate between 2003 and 2006, wrote in a column published Sunday that he won multiple elections because the NRA and similar groups “educated” voters about his purported pro-gun views.

“While I didn’t enter politics to be an advocate for the NRA, I quickly learned that unless I became one, I wouldn’t be around to advocate for the issues I did care about,” Dann wrote on Cleveland.com. “I soon learned however, that in making a deal with the devil to advance my political career, I had abandoned my principles and sold my soul.”

Dann’s column came just weeks after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 rifle he purchased legally. The massacre set off a roiling national debate about gun-control legislation and Second Amendment rights.

Dann wrote that voters in his rural district staunchly opposed any gun-control reforms, often voted purely on the issue of gun rights, and “inundated” his office with calls and letters.

Much of their fervor, he said, was because gun-advocacy groups spent “blood money” they received from gunmakers to “misinform and then motivate” voters.

Dann said his alignment with the NRA and other local gun groups caused him to vote for a bill in 2006 that overturned an assault weapons ban, despite his belief that it “endangered people across the state.”

“I know now, after far too many lives have been sacrificed on the altar of the NRA’s lies, that I should have pushed back,” Dann said. “I should have told my constituents they were being duped by shills for a firearms industry that profits from fear-mongering and murder.”

On Monday, the NRA called Dann’s column “a desperate attention-seeking ploy by a has-been politician” who left office 10 years ago amid scandal.

Dann resigned as Ohio’s attorney general in 2008 following an extramarital affair Dann admitted to having with a subordinate, and sexual harassment allegations against another aide in his office.