breaking news

French official: 1 dead, 8 wounded at Christmas market in Strasbourg

‘Stand your ground’ gun bill passes Ohio House

Controversial bill removes a “duty to retreat” for armed Ohioans facing a threat.


A controversial “stand your ground” bill passed the Ohio House on Wednesday.

But the far-reaching bill — subject to dozens of amendments over multiple sessions — moves to the Senate under an uncertain timeline and veto cloud. Gov. John Kasich has promised to keep his name off any such bill.

The House-approved “stand your ground” bill removes a “duty to retreat” for armed Ohioans facing a threat or perceived threat. It also shifts the burden of proof in self-defense cases to the prosecution, which would align Ohio with a vast majority of states.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Ohio step closer to having ‘Stand your ground’ gun law 

Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, a primary sponsor, said the bill brings Ohio up-to-date with federal law and extends the castle doctrine to a person’s vehicle and anywhere they have a legal right to be.

“This bill is not going to grant any new place to carry a firearm nor is this bill designed to allow vigilantes to walk the streets and dispense their own justice,” McDermott said.

The floor debate drew passionate pleas from both parties and did not end without drama. Halfway through the debate Warren County Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, R-Mason called for the bill to get sent back to the committee “to get it right instead of rushing it through.”

TRENDING: Pike County murders: 5 questions answered this morning 

The debate passed through more representatives until it reached Rep. Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland.

“If it’s a duty to retreat bill and only two people are there and someone says I feared for my life and the other person is dead, who do you believe?” Howse said. “This was the type of legislation that was the legislative justification for the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida.”

Martin was a 17-year-old unarmed African American fatally shot by George Zimmerman in 2012.

Howse then cited the demographics of the two bill sponsors’ districts – both more than 94 percent white – before House Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, directed her to keep “personalities” out of her comment. Moments later her microphone went dead and the clerk called for a vote.

The bill passed, 64-26.

Democrats said the bill may run afoul of the Ohio Constitution in the way it preempts local authority, preventing municipalities from enacting local gun control measures.

 

At least 25 states have removed a duty to retreat an attacker before using deadly force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

House Bill 228 cleared the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee in May on a 7-3, party-line vote. Ohio Gov. John Kasich promised to veto the bill but Republicans say there is enough support to override a veto. 

MORE: Gun control advocates push for ‘red flag’ law in Ohio 

The bill was opposed by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio but supported by the Ohio Public Defender.

“It allows the killing of an individual in certain situations where the death could have been avoided and thus makes a criminal homicide a justifiable homicide,” the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police said in its opposition to the bill.

“Taking a life is the most serious action anyone can take and to encourage it by passing this bill is unconscionable,” testified Francie King with Ohio Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “People should be able to defend themselves, and under current Ohio law they can already do that.”

Jim Irvine, Buckeye Firearms Association board president, said he hopes the bill moves swiftly through the Senate.

“If they don’t get to it soon they’re not going to get to it at all,” he said. “Obviously it’s a lame duck (session) and it’s a compressed time frame. We’re cautiously optimistic the Senate will take it up.”

The bill would need to pass by the end of the year or it would have to be brought back after new legislators and Gov.-elect Mike DeWine are sworn in in January.

Irvine said the bill corrects much in Ohio law.

“To us, this is really simple. Ohio law is contrary to federal law and every other state law,” Irvine said. “Ohio law is wrong and it’s defective and it needs to get fixed.”

Irvine said he knows Gov. John Kasich plans to veto the bill it if passes the Senate.

“That’s his prerogative as governor, but I think it’s sad that our governor is adamant that he would veto a bill saying people aren’t innocent until proven guilty.”

The bill also loosens other gun laws, including striking a rule that concealed handgun licensees keep hands in plain site during law enforcement stops. It also bars rental agreements for subsidized housing from prohibiting or restricting the ownership, use, or possession of a firearm within a dwelling.

The bill has backing from pro-gun rights groups such as Ohio Gun Owners and Buckeye Firearms Association but it is opposed by the ACLU of Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio, Moms Demand Action, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence and March for Our Lives.

Republicans said the bill stiffens some penalties, including for straw purchases. But Democrats called those slaps on the wrist.

At least 25 states have removed a duty to retreat an attacker before using deadly force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

House Bill 228 cleared the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee in May on a 7-3, party-line vote.

If Gov. Kasich vetoes the bill, Republicans say there is enough support to override a veto.

The bill is co-sponsored by area GOP representatives Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, Bill Dean, R-Xenia, Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City, Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, Scott Lipps, R-Franklin, Nino Vitale, R-Urbana and Wes Retherford, R- Hamilton.

The bill was headed to the House floor in June but got thrown off track following the resignation of House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, the fight over who would replace him, and by the November election cycle.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Homepage