Democrats Discuss: Thoughts and prayers are easier than gun control for GOP

Four hundred.

That’s how many people have been shot in the 200 school shootings that have occurred since Sandy Hook.

On Feb. 14, Marjory Stoneman Douglas became the latest, and the deadliest, site of seven school shootings this year, resulting in the deaths of 17 people.

Republicans’ response? They offered their thoughts and prayers, of course.

Elected officials ranging from Sen. Rob Portman to Rep. Steve Stivers seem able to offer only positive thinking and prayers instead of comprehensive solutions to the issue of gun violence in this country. If they cannot put forth answers to the problem, then maybe it is finally time to vote them out.

But in their place, we cannot afford to continue to support these pro-gun politicians who favor guns over human lives. This standard should also extend to Democrats. In the 2018 gubernatorial primary, four Democratic candidates are running. One of them has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund — and he’s leading in the polls.

In January, the 1984 Society conducted a poll that showed former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray leading by seven points. Unsurprising to many who have followed the race, Cordray’s lead seemed natural. He has statewide name recognition, experience fighting for consumers and the nationwide support from people such as former President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Cordray’s history with guns resurfaced and has left many questioning whether they could support a candidate with such a strong pro-gun stance. The answer is simple: They shouldn’t.

The Buckeye Firearms Association endorsed Cordray in his race for Ohio Attorney General in 2010 over Mike DeWine, citing Cordray’s support for concealed carry reciprocity agreements and his filings in his first term as AG to protect Second Amendment rights. That was contrasted with DeWine’s status as one of the “Top 10 Anti-Gun Senators,” the only Republican to have made the list.

On Feb. 19, Cordray posted his solutions to gun violence in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, specifically advocating for the ban of bump stocks, increased security in schools and a crackdown on illegal gun trafficking. Yet, the majority of his vague statement closely resembled remarks from those Republican officials currently being scolded for their inadequate responses; and on the topic of AR-15s amidst demands to ban them, his post was oddly silent.

How can we in good conscience support a candidate with an “A” rating from the NRA and endorsements from the same pro-gun groups who want nothing done in response to these mass shootings? How can Democrats criticize Republicans for their simple “thoughts and prayers” answer and then prop up a candidate who will give us more of the same?

Cordray’s solution to gun violence is nothing but the same type of vague political rhetoric spewed by Republicans to avoid stepping on the toes of their donors and pro-gun constituents who decide the fate of their elections. Though talk of stepping up security in schools and cracking down on illegal trafficking of guns could be a temporary solution, this distracts from the real, long-term reform that we need.

It is time for Democrats to stand strong on common sense gun control. If Cordray isn’t prepared to step up to the plate, then perhaps he doesn’t deserve our votes this spring.

This article originally appeared in The Post ( Ashley Fishwick is a senior studying English pre-law and political science at Ohio University. 

Democrats Discuss: Rob Porter and the standard of the president

Rob Porter is a name that has been unable to leave national headlines the past few days. For those who are unfamiliar, Porter was the White House staff secretary and assistant to the president for the Trump administration starting Jan. 20, 2017. He was responsible for drafting President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address and all paper flow to the president.

It has recently been brought to light that Porter allegedly abused his two ex-spouses. Pictures of the abuse circulated the internet and caused an uproar from both sides of the aisle.

The White House defended him the first couple of days after the story broke, saying that he would not be terminated. However, he later was asked to resign.

The controversy continued to be front-page news as people began to question how Porter could have possibly been allowed to work in the White House due to those accusations.

For days, the White House claimed to not know about the alleged abuse cases. Christopher Wray, the FBI director, however, contradicted the White House’s statement Tuesday in a testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee where he stated that the FBI gave the White House a detailed background check on Porter in late July. That resulted in Porter’s security clearance being denied in September.

The fact that a White House official was allowed to continue working amid allegations of physical abuse and without any security clearance should be very concerning to all Americans. On top of that, the fact that the White House essentially concealed an employee’s allegations of domestic abuse is disturbing at best.

The White House has continually let down its citizens by putting people in power who are unfit to lead our country. We have seen this time and time again; Steve Bannon who has white supremacist beliefs, Betsy DeVos who has no background in public education, Sean Spicer who continuously misled the public during press debriefings and now, Rob Porter, a man who allegedly abused his two ex-wives.

Let us not forget that Trump has been accused by 19 women of sexual assault along with the infamous “p—y tape” which was leaked during the campaign. We have already seen the well-deserved crucifixion of predators, whether it be in Hollywood or within the realm of politics. But why are we ignoring the man on top? Has he reached such an untouchable status that his accusers voices don’t matter?

While potentially unpopular, it is hard to not draw the conclusion that Trump should not hold office based on the accusations against him. The White House knew Porter was a potentially dangerous man, someone who was capable of giving his wife a black eye, months before it hit the news.

If the story hadn’t broke — if Porter’s ex-wife hadn’t come forward — this man would still be a White House Staff Secretary working beside a man whose actions don’t discourage such behavior.

If we are holding Hollywood moguls and other household names to this standard, why aren’t we holding the president of the United States to the same?


This article originally appeared in The Post ( Kailee Missler is a freshman studying journalism strategic communications at Ohio University.

Democrats Discuss: The opioid crisis is tearing Ohio apart, and medical marijuana could bring it back together

The opioid crisis is destroying Ohio.

Prescription painkillers such as Percocet and Vicodin have left many Ohioans addicted to powerful opioids. When people can no longer afford opioids or are denied refills, they often turn to heroin or Fentanyl sold illegally on the streets. 

It is estimated that 80 percent of heroin users started on an opioid. When people switch to these powerful drugs, overdoses are common. In 2016 alone, 4,050 Ohioans died from unintentional overdoses, the second most per capita in the nation behind only West Virginia. 2017 is expected to outpace those numbers. 

This epidemic has several trickle-down effects. The foster care system is overburdened from the influx of children into the system after their parents overdosed. Local government budgets have busted do to the need to purchase large quantities of Narcan, the drug used to revive people who have overdosed. Lost labor productivity from people addicted to opioids cannot be defined yet, although the impact is expected to be significant. Ohio needs answers, and it needs them now. 

Fortunately, Ohio has already taken a step in the right direction. 

In 2016, the Ohio state legislature legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The law allows for marijuana dispensaries — where patients with a prescription can have the prescription filled — to set up in certain places across the state. The state does not allow for smokable marijuana, but edibles, oils, vaporization and patches are permitted. This offers a great way for Ohioans to get the medicine they need for the pain they have. 

At face value, this law may seem like a good option for Ohioans. However, the Republican-led Ohio legislature has added on very strict regulations that makes it incredibly difficult for the average Ohioan to obtain medical marijuana, should they need it. 

Ohio has limited the amount of dispensaries to just 60 for the entire state. With a population of 11.61 million, that is one dispensary for every 193,500 Ohioans. For comparison, there are 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in California for 39.25 million people, or one dispensary for every 39,350 Californians. (California had the eighth-fewest overdose deaths per capita in 2016.)

There are only 21 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. Among them are potentially life-threatening diseases, such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, cancer, HIV, AIDS and Alzheimer’s. There are also less life-threatening diseases, such as Crohn’s Disease, fibromyalgia and sickle cell anemia. Perhaps the most odd condition on the list is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the disease plaguing football players that can only be diagnosed after death. The most common qualifying condition listed that people could fall under is “chronic pain.” However, that is very vague and left up for physicians to decide what counts as chronic.

What’s problematic with this law is that there are incredible regulations on what conditions qualify for medical marijuana, while there were almost none for what conditions doctors would prescribe opioids for. However, marijuana does not exhibit the same kind of negative side effects opioids, yet it is still effective in pain management.

Ohio has the resources and tools to combat the opioid epidemic. Medical marijuana is an effective tool for pain management while not giving the nasty side effects of addiction. Our lawmakers need to take note and help Ohioans.

This article originally appeared in The Post ( Bailey Williams is a sophomore studying economics at Ohio University.