Rep. Scherer Applauds Ohio House Passage Of Legislation Strengthening Self-Defense Laws
HB 228 helps Ohioans better protect themselves, families against harm
November 16, 2018
[ Gary Scherer Home | Gary Scherer Press ]

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives this week passed House Bill 228, legislation that modifies self-defense laws to better enable Ohioans to defend themselves and their families against harm.

“I believe in safe and responsible gun ownership, as well as the right for individuals to defend themselves if attacked,” said State Representative Gary Scherer (R-Circleville). “This legislation implements common-sense proposals that will help protect Ohio families, modernize some of our state’s outdated gun laws and penalize individuals who wish to engage in unlawful activity.”

This bill removes an individual’s duty to retreat and expands the situations in which a person has no duty to retreat to any place that an individual is lawfully permitted to be. Current law, commonly understood as the “Castle Doctrine,” limits these protections only to a person’s house and vehicle. Expanding this provision would bring Ohio in line with 38 other states with similar laws.

The bill also shifts the burden of proof for claiming self-defense from the defendant to the prosecution. Ohio is the only state that requires the defendant to prove he or she was acting in self-defense. This can both be difficult to prove and immediately places a presumption of guilt on the accused, which is contrary to the defining principle of the American legal system of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Ohioans who do not act in self-defense, but rather act recklessly and without regard to the safety of others, will still be held accountable for their actions in a court of law. However, as with most criminal proceedings, it should be up to the prosecution to prove that someone was not acting in self-defense.

While this legislation seeks to uphold Ohioans’ safety and preserve their Second Amendment rights, it also enhances punishments for individuals who engage in unlawful activity. For example: An individual who is caught purchasing a firearm for someone who is restricted from having one (often known as “straw purchases”) will be subject to a third-degree felony and can face up to 36 months in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Current law authorizes entities, such as schools, government buildings, police stations, etc. to allow concealed carry on their premises if they so choose. The bill authorizing that change did not update the portions of the Ohio Revised Code involving proper signage requirements relating to not allowing weapons on the premises for those areas. HB 228 fixes and updates Ohio law to make sure that these entities, such as schools, are not violating Ohio law if the entity has a policy allowing concealed carry, but is still required to post a sign not allowing concealed carry on their grounds. This language simply gives the entity an option to remove the sign if they so choose.

“To be clear, this provision does not change the law banning guns from school safety zones, if that is the school district’s policy. It eliminates the mandate to post signs. Furthermore, schools may continue to post signs, if they so choose,” Scherer said.

HB 228 reduces certain handgun offenses to minor misdemeanors in instances where the offender does not commit a separate offense while carrying the concealed handgun.

“I raised a question to the bill sponsors about some of the reductions, based on testimony by law enforcement officials. They assured me that these penalties will be revised in the Senate, if and when they address House Bill 228,” Scherer said.

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