- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A leading gun control advocacy group said Wednesday that it hopes a foiled plot by an Ohio bartender who authorities say threatened to murder Speaker John A. Boehner is a “wake-up call” for congressional Republicans to approve legislation tightening gun-purchase background checks.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said they are grateful that any potential attack was prevented and thanked law enforcement, and that they wish Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and the Republican Congress would realize that background checks help law enforcement keep guns out of dangerous hands, including those of the severely mentally ill.

“Hopefully, the Republican Congress will heed this indictment of the Speaker’s would-be assassin as a wake-up call to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, including felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill,” Mr. Gross said.

The bartender, Michael R. Hoyt, told authorities that he was Jesus and that Mr. Boehner was the devil and that he blamed the congressman for getting fired from his job before he had a chance to put something in his drink, according to an affidavit.

He also told authorities he had a loaded Beretta .380 automatic handgun with which he planned to shoot Mr. Boehner, before volunteering to be taken for a psychiatric evaluation.

Authorities say that they later found ammunition, an SKS rifle magazine, a speed loader and bullet hole in his home, as well as what appeared to be a bullet hole in his first-floor bedroom. His mother told authorities she took away the SKS rifle from Hoyt because he had become “increasingly agitated.”

Federal legislation that would have expanded gun-purchase background checks to virtually all gun sales fell victim to a filibuster in the Senate in April 2013; right now, only federally-licensed dealers are required to perform the checks.

Advocates have managed to secure some state-level victories since then, and Mr. Gross pledged to expand the fight at the state level to build pressure on Capitol Hill if Congress doesn’t act.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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