Ohio House Passes Legislation Strengthening Self-Defense Laws
HB 228 helps Ohioans better protect themselves, families against harm
Posted November 14, 2018 by Majority Caucus

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

House Bill 228, which passed with bipartisan support, 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 accordance with 38 other states with similar laws.

"The updated duty-to-retreat and self-defense provisions contained in this legislation will help ensure that law-abiding citizens are able to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland), who sponsored the legislation with Rep. Terry Johnson (R-McDermott). “I'm pleased that the bill passed the House by such a large, bipartisan margin, and I look forward to working with the Senate to make sure House Bill 228 is signed into law before the end of the year.”

HB 228 shifts the burden of proof for claiming self-defense from the defendant to the prosecution. That is, in cases where individuals act in self-defense, they are assured that they are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Ohio is the only state that requires the defendant to prove he or she was acting in self-defense.

The bill includes an affirmative defense for law-abiding citizens to sue if they happen to commit a firearm violation unknowingly. One example would include a spouse

The bill includes an affirmative defense for law-abiding citizens to sue if they happen to commit a firearm violation unknowingly, such as a spouse driving a car where a CHL holder left their firearm.

In discussing the bill, Rep. Johnson emphasized protecting the right for individuals who need access to affordable subsidized housing to defend themselves.

“The Second Amendment of the US Constitution applies to all of us regardless of race, religion, creed, or political outlook,” Johnson said. “In the very words of the amendment, it states clearly that it is not to be infringed yet that has happened thousands and thousands of times across our great nation. Why do we need legislation like House Bill 228? Very simply, to do what we can to restore your second amendment rights to the greatest extent possible.”

The legislation enhances certain penalties for engaging in unlawful transactions. 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.

The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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