Activists on both sides of gun issue wait for action from Biden administration

Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 19:41:27-05

CLEVELAND — ​Back in March of this year, hours before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way political campaigns work, then-candidate Joe Biden stopped in Ohio.

First, he stopped in Columbus and met with members of two gun control advocacy groups, Everytown Survivor Network and Moms Demand Action, according to Rebecca Gorski a volunteer with the latter group.

Gorski was waiting for Biden's second scheduled stop that day, but in the hours between the end of Biden's stop in the state capital and his stop in Northeast Ohio, the seriousness of the pandemic set in, and the event was canceled.

Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders was also scheduled to stop in Cleveland, but his trip to Northeast Ohio was also canceled. This was March 10, a week before the March 17 Ohio primary.

For the next seven months, traditional campaign conversations were often eschewed for speeches about COVID-19, the economy and recovery.

Despite the new style of campaign, which for Biden meant months of videos and small group discussions instead of large political rallies, Gorski said the issue of firearms in the United States wasn't forgotten.

"I think candidates were speaking about it more than ever before, and I think that it's important to voters," she said.

Gorski was active in the 2020 election for Moms Demand Action in the Cleveland area. The political action group was started in 2012 by Shannon Watts in the months following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

"So we must address these issues at the federal level," Gorski said. "And we're lucky to have guns as champions like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the White House."

Now, President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris support the Democrat party platform.

Part of the platform includes enacting universal background checks, closing the "Charleston Loophole," ending the manufacture of assault weapons and passing legislation for safe home storage.

"Which is — it's a good idea to have good home storage requirements," said Second Amendment activist and radio host Amanda Suffecool. She said the problem begins "when you add the word mandate and then you add the word under penalty of law."

Where Gorski sees promise in the Biden-Harris agenda, Suffecool sees a breach of freedom.

"When you talk to the liberal gun club, they're like, 'Yeah, that's the platform that's not real.' Well, if it's not real, why is it saying this is the direction we want to go?" Suffecool said.

Suffecool advocates for more education when it comes to gun ownership and usage. That is not in the current platform. She doesn't think the platform is going in the right direction.

These two women don't agree on much when it comes to gun issues, but they both say the pandemic hasn't dulled the conversation about guns in America.

That conversation is seen in action at the Parma Armory.

Owner Rob Eurle said at the beginning of the year he was preparing for a rush on guns depending on the outcome of the election.

But it was the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in the spring that really brought gun sales up.

"I think it's maybe across the nation that the Second Amendment is just getting more awareness now," he said. "And you could see through this spike that we saw when the beginning of COVID that we were over like 300% and sales of both firearms and retail."

Eurle agrees there needs to be more education for potential and current gun owners.

With a change in administration, Eurle is preparing for a change in regulations.

"We don't know what restrictions we might see, or less restrictions, we might say," Eurle said. "We don't know. It's a mystery, especially with a changing every day."

He said even if background check regulations change under the new administration, he doesn't expect any change in sales.