The Ohio General Assembly passed a firearm bill Thursday, but with a removed provision commonly known as “stand your ground” that had been in the original version of the legislation.
House Bill 228 passed the Senate Thursday afternoon largely along party lines, after a committee had heavily amended the bill earlier in the day. Shortly before 7 p.m. in the House, the representatives adopted the Senate’s version of the bill.
“This is still a strong Second Amendment bill, even though some things came out of it,” bill sponsor Rep. Terry Johnson, a Republican from Scioto County told his colleagues on the House floor as he urged them to accept the Senate’s changes.
The bill now heads to Gov. John Kasich, who had vowed to veto a stand-your-ground measure It’s unclear what he will do now that the bill has changed.
Stand your ground
Current Ohio law states gun owners have a duty to retreat if possible before using self-defense in a life-threatening situation. The provision that was removed would have eliminated that duty.
Opponents say stand your ground would give people permission to shoot anyone.
The bill doesn’t change Ohio’s castle doctrine, which allows gun owners to use force in their homes or vehicles in self-defense against people who are unlawfully inside.
What’s left in the bill?
In H.B. 228, the burden of proof in a self-defense shooting shifts.
Ohio law requires the gun owner to prove he is innocent, that he was in a situation in which the shooting was lawful and in self-defense.
But in the country’s other 49 states, the law specifies that the prosecution has to prove the gun owner broke the law in a self-defense shooting.
Supporters of the bill say the change is necessary. But Sen. John Eklund, a Geauga County Republican, hypothetically asked colleagues in the chamber whether, if the other 49 states decided to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, Ohio should follow.
Eklund said he hasn’t been provided compelling evidence that the state needs to shift the burden of proof.
“To be blunt, the committee was sold a bill of goods on this issue,” he said, referring to the Senate committee that voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor Thursday morning.
Eklund broke from his party and voted against the bill.
The bill also would prohibit “straw man” purchases in which someone purchases a gun on behalf of someone else, which would mirror federal law. Kasich has called for this prohibition.
People involved in such transactions can be charged with a third-degree felony.