Ohio takes aim at gun laws PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 04 November 2013 10:28
File photo. State Rep. Tim Brown (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Ohio House of Representatives is taking aim at firearm regulations, looking to widen self-defense and concealed weapon procedures.
Ohioans will no longer be required to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker if House Bill 203, currently in committee, is approved by legislators. The measure would also reduce the training requirement for concealed-carry permits and recognize permits from other states.
Ohio's current "castle doctrine" requires anyone outside of their own home or vehicle or an immediate relative's vehicle attempt to retreat before using a firearm for self defense. The alternative proposed in House Bill 203 would replace that provision with what's commonly referred to as a "stand your ground" law, made infamous as the country heard it discussed in the case of George Zimmerman, who claimed to have shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in self defense in Florida.
That state's law differs from Ohio's proposal, which would keep the burden of proving self-defense on the shooter. In Florida, Zimmerman was found not guilty and did not cite "stand your ground" as a defense.
If passed, the bill would change Ohio law to state that "a person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person's residence if that person is in a place that the person lawfully has a right to be." 
House Bill 203 would also make several changes to the requirements for concealed-carry licenses, including reducing the required training from 12 hours to four, and a reciprocal program to recognize other states' permits if those states honor permits issued by Ohio.
Introduced in June, the measure originally removed the 12-hour training requirement before the four-hour stipulation was added to a substitute bill offered by the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee this week.
State Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green) said he would defer to Attorney General Mike DeWine's decision on whether to institute a reciprocity agreement with states that have equal or better laws governing concealed carry permits.
Brown said he is not a member of the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee and has not read the bill, and thus declined to comment on the stand-your-ground provision or other aspects of the legislation.
"I'm going to reserve judgement until there's a final bill I can read and look at," he said. "That bill just doesn't exist today."
State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) also declined to comment in detail.
"Fundamentally, I am a strong advocate for the right of self-defense for law-abiding citizens," he stated via email.
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said that although the bill may change and he supports the individual right to protect a person and their family by carrying guns, a stand-your-ground component could lead to some being "aggressive or stepping beyond" the limit of the law.
If someone is threatened and unable to safely retreat, they should be allowed to use force, he said. But they'll also be asked to explain why they felt unable to retreat, whether by law enforcement or the courts, and should be able to do so clearly.
"If they can safely retreat and not kill the other person, I think always the best course is to not kill someone," he said.
"If you can express that you're in danger and can't get away, you have every right to use lethal force."
Any reciprocity agreement should require that standards of other states be equal to or more stringent than Ohio, Wasylyshyn said. Otherwise, some residents may seek those permits to avoid Ohio's requirements.
Wasylyshyn prefers to leave the training requirement at 12 hours, which is "not too much" when considering the safety procedures, liability issues and other matters to be learned during a course that covers much more than just shooting proficiency, he said.
His deputies are required to demonstrate their ability on the firing range at least twice per year, while those who seek CCW permits have to qualify to earn one, but never again.
Wasylyshyn said reduced requirements are coming about due to pressure by the National Rifle Association, which has lobbied in support of no requirements whatsoever to carry a concealed firearm.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 November 2013 11:10

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