PREBLE COUNTY — In December, a Facebook group was created with the intention of organizing individuals in support of Second Amendment rights.
Started by Michael Hiles — who is a native of Preble County — the group has recently grown to 48,827 members.
From the Facebook group, different counties are organizing and scheduling meetings, in hopes of getting resolutions passed by their county commissioners which declare their opposition to any restrictions to the Second Amendment.
Recently, Clermont County became the second county in Ohio to pass such a resolution, with Meigs County being the first. Other counties — including Preble County — are actively meeting to discuss the potential resolution.
According to Hiles, Ohio Stands United is a network of dedicated Ohioans working together to send a message to lawmakers. The group is a direct answer to “red flag laws” that are being passed by other states.
“[This] is a form of legislation that is being promoted by anti-firearm interests to suspend a gun owners, firearm owners, and citizens due process and seize their firearms with dynamic explosive entry SWAT teams, which is, once again, repugnant to the constitution, no matter if you like guns or not,” he said. “Seeing what’s happening in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky — and it’s already been passed in Indiana quietly — it really motivated me as an experienced political organizer, as a digital marketing guy, and as a software, data, and analytic scientist to leverage my skill sets.”
After research, he found no dedicated group meant to counteract potential red flag laws. He wanted to create this group as a way to get community members — all throughout Ohio — involved in local politics and teach the masses how to organize politically at the local level. He added, they work to get partisanship completely out of the issue, but recognizes the typical split in political party the issue typically sees.
On Dec. 22, Hiles created a private Facebook group called Ohio Stands United. He invited 100 of his local friends and from there, those members added their friends. Now, there are more than 48,000 members on the group from all 88 counties of Ohio. Through this page, members from different counties have organized and meetings are actively being held to “organize politically.”
“I try to tell people, this isn’t about guns, this is about rights. I want rights people even more than I want gun people. I want you to be there as a gun person, because you’re focused on rights. We see this as an awesome opportunity to engage across the State of Ohio and get people organized,” Hiles said.
In Preble County, group members are working to get a resolution passed declaring Preble County as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary County.” A resolution, according to Hiles, is mainly “symbolic.”
“The resolution itself is largely symbolic,” he said. “On one hand, we can make a resolution that says we as citizens of Preble County don’t want this to go on and we’re going to defund that. We all know that is a symbolic gesture. What I’m hoping is, as the counties go through the process of formalizing that statement, the fact it happened should be demonstrative to the State that a large number of folks are willing to advocate for this. Hopefully, that collective voice will help send a message to the State.
The Preble County Board of Commissioners has discussed the group different times during recent meetings. They are working with legal representation to see if a resolution is a possibility for the county.
“There is a resolution Ohio Stands United has put together. I have asked for legal opinion, once we get [that] Sheriff Mike Simpson wants to review it. If we feel that is the best case for the county, we will move forward,” Commissioner Rodney Creech said. “More or less, what [the resolution] is saying is we support the Second Amendment. It is sending a message to whomever that our community does support the Second Amendment.
“I’m looking at this from a Constitution standpoint – I believe in the Constitution and the Second Amendment. As a County Commissioner, I am a representative of the county. If this resolution fits our county and we have no issues with the Prosecutor’s Office, why not [approve it], we do a lot of awareness months [resolutions]. This is just to make people aware.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH