New Reforms Would Preserve Rights For Responsible Gun Owners
By Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell)
January 21, 2014
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Growing up in southeast Ohio and now serving as the state representative of Jackson and Gallia counties, as well as parts of Lawrence and Vinton counties, I know how important the issue of gun rights is to the people of the area. We are the kind of people who symbolize what it means to be safe and responsible gun owners. Preserving Second Amendment rights has been a priority for me since joining the Ohio House of Representatives.

Late last year, I had the opportunity to vote in favor of legislation that I believe both upholds our right to bear arms and that will help keep our families safe. House Bill 203 makes a series of reforms to gun laws in Ohio, such as bringing some statutes into line with federal law so that laws are easier to understand and comply with.

One of the most publicized changes contained in HB 203 is the so-called “stand your ground” provision. While some groups tried to turn this into a political issue, I believe it is a common-sense approach to allowing people to better protect themselves. At the time the bill was passed by the House, at least 28 other states had similar laws in place.

There is one primary difference between Ohio’s current policy and what is included in HB 203. Under the state’s current “castle doctrine,” individuals are allowed to use deadly force to protect themselves in their home or vehicle if they feel threatened. HB 203 simply expands that right to any location where a person is allowed to carry a gun. Under such a circumstance, the person firing the weapon must prove that his or her life was at risk.

In addition, the bill adds some restrictions that can disqualify certain people who should not be trusted with a firearm. For example, a person with a fifth-degree felony drug offense must wait a minimum of 10 years to qualify for a concealed carry permit. Multiple convictions of fifth-degree felony drug charges would lead to a permanent prohibition. Domestic violence convictions are also a disqualifier for getting a concealed carry license under HB 203.

If you would like more information about House Bill 203 or other issues that impact the 93rd House District, please contact my office. I look forward to hearing from you.

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