The Ohio Legislature is considering a series of bills that would broaden gun rights, potentially changing concealed-carry and self-defense laws in the state.
The Ohio General Assembly has introduced a flurry of firearm bills, the majority of which pertain to concealed carry, while one would give Ohio residents broad discretion to discharge their firearm in self defense.
House Bill 228 would eliminate a state law that requires Ohio residents to retreat from their hypothetical attacker before discharging their gun. The states surrounding Ohio already do not have the requirement for self-defense, according to NBC4i.
The legislation would also shift the burden of proof when a shooter who claims self-defense is charged with a crime. Under current Ohio law, the defendant would have to prove that they acted in self-defense; if the bill were to be signed into law, however, the onus would fall on prosecutors to prove that the shooting was not justified.
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In 2013, similar legislation failed to pass in the Ohio legislature, signaling that the latest bill has a steep hill to climb before becoming law.
Meanwhile, House Bill 233 would enable concealed-carry holders to avoid penalty if they bring a firearm into so-called forbidden carry zones. If the bill were enacted, an armed person would face no legal repercussions if they agree to leave a space that prohibits firearms when asked. This would extend to schools, airports and police stations, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
"For a lot of members in the caucus, it comes down to the constitutional rights of Ohioans," said a spokesperson for the Ohio House Speaker, GOP state Rep. Brad Miller. "There are cases where you never know when your life might be put in danger."
Director of governmental affairs Michael Weinman of the Fraternal Order of Police signaled that his union would oppose the bill, citing safety concerns.
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"They're creating a situation where someone has to go up and confront these concealed-carry holders, making it an unsafe situation."
House Bill 14 would change the dynamic for concealed-carry holders when they are pulled over by law enforcement. If the bill were signed, the gun owner would not have to inform the police officer that they had a firearm.
Meanwhile, House Bill 201 would allow someone to concealed-carry without a license. Board president Jim Irvine of the Buckeye Firearms Association voiced support for the legislation, which could potentially eliminate the firearm training requirement for concealed-carriers.
"Good people carrying firearms is not a public safety threat," Irvine said.
In March, Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio signed several pieces of gun legislation. The new laws enabled university trustees to permit concealed-carry on their campuses, prohibited companies from banning handguns from their premises and allowed for concealed-carry outside of unrestricted zones within airports, schools and child care centers, according to My Dayton Daily News.