More of a training exercise participant than a planner, the Ohio National Guard has been caught in the crossfire of a Second Amendment tussle.
The one-day training program occurred more than one year ago, January 24, 2013, to be exact. And just a few weeks after the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook, Conn. Elementary school shooting by a gunman that left 20 children and six faculty members dead
This exercise is when a contingent of ONG's 52nd Civil Support Team members were invited to – and did – engage in an emergency response training exercise orchestrated by the West Virginia National Guard.
This drill was conducted on Ohio soil in Portsmouth along the Ohio River.
Officially the exercise was to train participating personnel with the two Guard commands how to respond to an unknown chemical and/or biological weapon agent.
However, the drill was not built around an accidental release of a potentially life-threatening chemical spill or following a train wreck or semi-truck turn-over.
Instead the training incident involved a fictions case in which a disgruntled junior high school custodian and a school chemistry teacher were engaged in domestic terrorism at the educational institution.
The rub, however, was that the training exercise – again, fictitious - did not center on a neutral political theme.
Rather, the drill's core domestic terrorism focus was that the two school-affiliated workers were, in fact, right-wing zealots out to make their case for Second Amendment and gun-owner rights.
Under the training regimen the two men had salted the junior high school's lunch program with mustard gas, a highly poisonous chemical weapon first made famous almost a century ago during World War I's trench warfare. That is when Germany lobbed mustard gas into the laps of Allied troops, a situation that so horrified governments that the agent's use was banned worldwide.
Indeed, so scared of likely repercussions should Germany decide to again employ mustard gas during World War II even Hitler rejected its use.
The even more scary ricin biological weapon agent also was featured in the mock domestic terrorism drill.
In its entirety the Guard's full training protocol is contained within an approximately 38-page document. This incident manual does include photo-copied material from CNN Politics titled “Why the NRA won't talk with Obama” as part of the mock recovered documentation the two domestic terrorists were portrayed as possessing.
And it is exactly that make-believe link between domestic terrorism and supporters of Second Amendment rights that has gun owners and conservatives alike still upset more than one year later.
It is their charge that domestic terrorists are almost certainly a product of left-wing beliefs rather than some trumped-up mock drill that somehow such individuals arise from the other end of the political spectrum.
As a result, the Guard's year-plus-old training exercise remains a focal point of anger with gun owners as well as conservative-tilting components of the media.
Charging that the training exercise's misused alleged radical right-wing Second Amendment rights' activists as domestic terrorists has become a cause for exposure that includes the Drudge Report, Fox News, MediaTrackers, and the Buckeye Firearms Association.
In a number of e-edition publications, Buckeye Firearms Association treasurer and spokesman Chad Baus is quoted as saying: “It is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy.”
Baus noted as well in various published interviews how the training drill came just weeks after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting tragedy when emotions were still running high regarding gun ownership rights.
Even so, the Ohio National Guard continues to work to defuse the situation. It has noted in official documents that the service: “To maximize the realism of the exercise, the Ohio National Guard wasn't involved in the creation or execution of the exercise's fictitious scenario and was deliberately not informed of its details in advance.”
“It's not accurate to suggest that certain details of the exercise somehow reflect (the) views or opinions of officials of the Ohio National Guard.”
In short, “We are sworn to defend the Constitution and that includes the Second Amendment,” says James A. Sims II, Ohio National Guard spokesman.
“The exercise was built to train the team on our response to a chemical incident,” Sims said also in a series of e-mail exchanges. “We are supporters of the Constitution.”
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn