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Ohio National Guard portrayed gun rights supporters as domestic terrorists during drill

Published time: February 11, 2014 21:04
Edited time: February 13, 2014 10:58
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Ohio National Guard stuffs (AFP Photo / J.D. Pooley)

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Ohio National Guard stuffs (AFP Photo / J.D. Pooley)

Questions are being raised about the Ohio National Guard after internal documents revealed that the agency conducted a training drill last year in which Second Amendment advocates were portrayed as domestic terrorists.

WSAZ News reported out of Portsmouth, Ohio early last year that a mock disaster had been staged in order to see first responders from Scioto County and the Ohio Army National Guard’s Fifty-Second Civil Support Unit would react to a make-believe scenario in which school officials plotted to use chemical, biological and radiological agents against members of the community.

"It's the reality of the world we live in," Portsmouth Police Chief Bill Raisin told the network last January. "Don't forget there is such a thing as domestic terrorism. This helps us all be prepared."

This week, though, the website MediaTrackers published documents pertaining to that drill, and with it they’ve raised concerns regarding how gun rights activists were depicted.

Those documents, Jesse Hathaway wrote for MediaTrackers on Monday, “reveal the details of a mock disaster where Second Amendment supporters with ‘anti-government’ opinions were portrayed as domestic terrorists.”

One of those documents referenced by Hathaway is an incident summary that appears to have been completed by the first responders who participated in last year’s exercise.

According to that report, the first responders who handled the mock emergency took special note of what appeared in the classroom of a school that was searched during the exercise.

“On the chalkboard as well as the tables there were several statements about protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights,” the summary read.

The summary also suggests that the first-responders took note of documents found inside the building pertaining to the school’s lunch schedule, as well as instructions and informational sheets on the poisonous compound ricin. Although it’s not referenced specifically in the incident summary report, the 38 pages of documents obtained by MediaTrackers also includes a 2011 article pertaining to gun control that’s on file alongside other evidence obtained from the school, including the name and phone number purportedly belonging to William Pierce, a now-deceased notorious neo-Nazi. MediaTrackers’ Hathaway says the documents that have been made public show that Pierce was portrayed during the trill as the “fiction right-wing terrorists’ leader.”

When MediaTrackers approached the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency director Kim Carver about the documents, though, she said she was “not going to get into an Ohio Army National Guard issue that you have with them.”

Ohio National Guard Communications Director James Sims II, MediaTrackers claims, told the website that it was “not relevant” as to why conservatives may feel targeted by being portrayed as anti-government extremists.

“Okay, I’m gonna stop ya there. I’m going to quit this conversation,” Sims told the site when reached for comment. “You have a good day.”

Those who did agree to speak to MediaTrackers, however, had much more to say.

“The revelation of this information is appalling to me, and to all citizens of Ohio who are true conservatives and patriots, who don’t have guns for any other reason than that the Second Amendment gives them that right,” Portage County TEA Party Executive Director Tom Zawistowski told the website.

“[I]t is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,” added Buckeye Firearms Association spokesman Chad Baus.