Ohio’s Vance, Ryan Discuss Gun Legislation in Final Senate Debate

Micky Wootten | October 20, 2022 | 10:26am EDT
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U.S. Senate candidates in Ohio, Tim Ryan (D) and J.D. Vance (R).  (Screenshot)
U.S. Senate candidates in Ohio, Tim Ryan (D) and J.D. Vance (R). (Screenshot)

(CNS News) – While debating gun control legislation as part of their senatorial race, J.D. Vance (R) criticized Tim Ryan (D) for being too soft on crime, while Ryan sought to paint Vance as being too extreme to find a solution to gun violence with other senators.

During their Oct. 17 debate, a moderator asked the candidates, “What measures, or real solutions, would you support to reduce gun violence and mass shootings, and would they include any restrictions on gun ownership for anyone?”

Vance replied, “We have multiple examples, just in the last couple of years, of terribly tragic situations where a convicted felon has walked in, passed a background check, got the firearm, and killed a lot of innocent people. That’s obviously totally unacceptable.”

“I’m a big pro-Second Amendment guy, I know a lot of people who really stridently defend the Second Amendment,” he added. “None of them think that convicted felons who have been afforded their due process rights should be able to buy firearms and then a kill a large number, or a small number of people, okay?” 

Vance further said that Democrats’ embrace of anti-police rhetoric in the Summer of 2020 was a major contributor to rising crime rates.

“The reason why we have skyrocketing gun violence in this country is because Tim Ryan and a lot of Democrats decided to declare war on America’s police,” said Vance. “That’s why, from Youngstown, to Cleveland, to Columbus, to Cincinnati, we have really, really high rates of gun violence. We didn’t have it two years ago, we didn’t have it five years ago, and nothing changed in the gun laws so we need to get back to common sense law enforcement policies.” 

Vance also advocated for finding a solution to “fix the system that’s broken as opposed to layering a bunch of additional regulations on top of it.” 

The moderator then asked Ryan, “What specific limitations on gun ownership do you support and what would you see as going too far in limiting gun ownership?”

Ryan went on to recount his memories of annual hunting trips with his eldest son, Mason, emphasizing the need to “preserve that culture here in Ohio.” 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

He then expressed his support for a variety of gun control measures aimed at reducing instances of guns ending up in the wrong hands.

“We need background checks, we need to close the gun show loophole, we need to make sure that these weapons of war are not readily available like what happened in the one community where an 18- year-old just a few days after his 18th birthday, he’s able to, like, stumble into a gun shop and get a semiautomatic rifle and 1,600 rounds of ammunition?” he said.  “If we train a soldier and they go out, they get 300 rounds.” 

Ryan also continued his strategy of painting J.D. as being too extreme, first by accusing Vance of wanting to abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

“J.D. wants to ban the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the agency that helps us prevent gun crimes and tries to solve gun crimes, and he wants to abolish the agency,” said Ryan.  “And here’s another example of how extreme J.D. is. Right?” 

Ryan then sought to link Vance to controversial talk-show host Alex Jones.

“Alex Jones, a right-wing talk-radio show with a huge following, said that the Sandy Hook murders of those young, precious babies in Connecticut, he said it was a hoax. And he went on and on and said it was a hoax,” said Ryan.  

“And I’ve met these families from Sandy Hook. Absolutely devastated, you lose a fourth grader to a madman, and this guy says it was a hoax,” Ryan continued.  “Our guy J.D. says this is one of the most credible news sources in the whole country. And he [Jones] just got convicted, and he just got sued, to the tune of billions of dollars that he owes the families for putting them through this grief.”

“And I just want people to know,” he said, “it’s like -- we’re running for the United States Senate. This is the highest office you could get in this country except for president. And he’s [Vance] running around backing these extremists. The most extreme people in the country, a guy who denied Sandy Hook. He’s like, no, he’s [Jones] credible. I mean, you don’t have to, it’s just, it’s maddening.” 

Vance responded, “This is a complete fabrication, I never said that.”

Ryan: “J.D. you’re on tape brother, you’re on tape man.”

Vance: “I never said that Tim. Go and run the tape and find out exactly what I said.”

Ryan: “It’ll be like 30 minutes and we’re all going to know you’re lying.”

Vance: “I never said that. Notice that he didn’t even answer the question. He didn’t give you a single example of something that would meaningfully reduce gun violence, either on our streets, or our schools.”

Ryan: “Is my microphone not working?”

On Sept. 5, 2021, Vance posted the following to Twitter: “Alex Jones is a far more reputable source of information than Rachel Maddow. One of them is censored by the regime. The other promoted by it.”

According to Vance, however, his tweet was an example of him “just trolling everyone,” in an attempt to raise awareness of how consistently wrong mainstream media has been about certain things in recent years.

The moderators then moved on to the next question:

“Ohio now has a law that allows teachers and other staff to carry guns onto school property after receiving only 24 hours of training. Is that the answer to the growing epidemic of mass school shootings in America?” 

Vance replied,  “Well, is it the answer? Of course not. We need many, many solutions to find the answer to these ridiculous school shootings. […] I think allowing properly trained teachers to carry firearms can be part of the solution, I think increasing funding for school resource officers can be part of the solution.” 

Ryan said, “But the question is, in all of these instances, we tried to pass some reasonable, gun safety legislation that Rob Portman supported. It was a bipartisan effort. And J.D. Vance opposed it. Like, this was not an extreme bill. This didn’t close the gun show loophole, it didn’t go into background checks, it didn’t go into the Charleston loophole, it didn’t go into any of that stuff, which I support, but he was against it.

Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  (Screenshot)
Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Screenshot)

“John Cornyn from Texas is for this, Rob Portman is for this, strong Second Amendment guys, but he was against it. And this is, we have to come together, we have to find points of agreement here. You’re not always going to get your way. And I want to go to the Senate, and I’m going to represent Republicans and Democrats and Independents. I’m going to promise that I’m going to try to find some common sense solutions.” 

Vance sought to find common ground between by bringing up the mental health angle of this issue.

“Can we just talk about the mental health side of this, too?” he said. “Just briefly, I imagine, frankly, Tim Ryan agrees with me on this. Very often, behind these school shootings, is a person whose clearly mentally unwell, who was not getting treatment, and who was not being ordered into the types of facilities that would have prevented them from committing these crimes in the first place. So, Rob Portman, again, who endorsed me, has actually done a lot on the mental health side of the equation, I think that’s an important part of ensuring these school shootings do not become more frequent, hopefully, in the future.” 

“I’m not quite sure why Rob Portman endorsed you because you don’t agree with any of the compromises that he’s been able to make in the last year,” said Ryan.

Ryan then dismissed Vance’s attempt to come to an agreement on mental health, bringing up the fact that while “mental health issues happen around the globe, this is the only country where we have these kinds of things happening.” 

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