Last April, two Ohio House Republicans told lawmakers their “constitutional carry” bill would ease the bureaucratic hassle of training and background checks to get a license to carry a concealed weapon.

They didn’t write the speech.

Chris Door, the “no compromise” gun lobbyist and executive director of Ohio Gun Owners, did. Metadata attached to a copy of their testimony on the legislature’s website lists his name as the document’s author.

On April 15, 2021, Representatives Tom Brinkman and Kris Jordan appeared before the House Government Oversight Committee to introduce House Bill 227. The bill would allow anyone 21 and older who can legally possess a gun to carry it concealed on their person.

Dorr said in text messages and an interview Thursday that he “may/probably” wrote the speech, but didn’t remember it for sure. In it, the two lawmakers said carrying an openly displayed firearm in Ohio was already legal. So why would carrying a concealed weapon without a license be illegal?

“Most gun owners know that carrying your gun openly isn’t always practical,” Brinkman said.

“In order to avoid unnecessary hassle from the public or law enforcement, one may decide to put a coat or jacket over his firearm. Unfortunately, this individual instantly turns into a criminal if he has not first experienced the government-enforced hullabaloo, which is a violation of his second amendment divine rights.

Brinkman said he doesn’t know who wrote it, but it’s possible his team went back and forth with Dorr to “tweak” the speech.

“I have no idea who is writing my testimony. I never write my testimony. I never write my floor speeches. That’s what the staff is for,” Brinkman said.

A screenshot of the “document properties” of the publicly available PDF of Jordan-Brinkman’s testimony.

On Wednesday, lawmakers passed a separate Senate version of a permit-free postponement bill and sent it to Gov. Mike DeWine. The Jordan-Brinkman is what is known as a “complementary bill” – part of a legislative strategy in which supporters run two versions of the same legislation in both the House and the Senate at the same time to increase its chances of becoming law.

Dorr writing the testimony is one of the clearest signs of the close working relationship between gun lobbyists and Republican lawmakers.

For example, Senator George Lang, a Republican from West Chester Township, co-sponsored the unlicensed haul bill that was sent to DeWine. He owns an insurance company that sells firearms liability insurance policies for those who shoot others in so-called self-defense. His business partners include the executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association and another lawyer for the lobby group.

Financial disclosures show Lang has earned more than $100,000 a year from the business since at least 2016. He apparently acknowledged the possibility of a conflict of interest during a 2020 interview.

“We tried to settle the bill”

On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Government Oversight Committee passed two last-minute amendments to the carry without a license bill sent to the governor, one of which said gun owners could allow law enforcement authorities to stop and search anyone found carrying a concealed weapon.

During the floor debate on Wednesday, Brinkman tried to force a floor amendment deleting the committee’s changes, but was blocked on procedural grounds by House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima.

The House and Senate passed the bill soon after.

Dorr, wearing sunglasses for a video posted to his Facebook account on Wednesday, praised Brinkman for trying to scrap the committee’s changes.

“We tried to settle the bill on the house floor,” he said. “Of course they used the procedure to reduce that. He deserves a loud shout.

In addition to local organizing, Dorr and his brothers represent affiliated gun owner organizations in 11 states. They generally seek to outflank Republicans and other gun lobby organizations to the right via uncompromising advocacy and a grassroots approach. In 2021, Dorr and his brothers were the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning podcast series investigating “[the] “uncompromising” gun rights activists who have brought to light the deep differences and deepening schism among American conservatives.

Dorr and Brinkman said Thursday they expect DeWine to eventually sign the bill.

Dorr said DeWine tends to drag his feet on gun issues, but he’ll likely pull through – he’s facing major challenges from the right and doesn’t want to make the election on firearms. Brinkman said if Wednesday’s vote did not reach the 60-vote supermajority required for a veto, the Republican caucus could muster the required support from its 64 members.

“My sense of non-worry — my lack of concern is that I know we’ve embraced it and can override its veto,” Brinkman said. “Whether it’s a step or two.”

Jordan did not respond to inquiries left at his office.

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