Ohio Senate passes new gun rights law minus controversial 'stand your ground' provision

Posted at 11:19 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-07 00:51:40-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Facing threats of a veto from outgoing Gov. John Kasich, Ohio's state Senate voted 19-10 to pass a gun rights law that omitted the most controversial portion of the legislation passed by the House: The so-called "stand your ground" provision. 

If the House approves the new version of House Bill 228 and Kasich signs it, gun owners in Ohio will still have the duty to retreat from a threatening situation before they reach for a deadly weapon -- something the original law would have eliminated. 

However, they would no longer shoulder the burden of proving they were justified if they did claim to have shot another person in self-defense. Instead, as is already law in all 49 other states, prosecutors would be required to prove a crime had been committed.

The final iteration of the law was one that left both gun rights advocates and proponents of greater restrictions exactly "half-happy," Moms Demand Action member Richele O'Connor said Thursday. 

Evidence of the ambivalence: NRA member and retired police officer Jack Basham, an advocate of stand-your-ground laws, was as dissatisfied as Cincinnati NAACP vice president and gun control proponent Joe Mallory. 

"How am I going to protect myself (by) running away when I can't run faster than somebody who's going to attack me?" Basham said.

For Mallory, the issue is a social one. The 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Florida boy killed by a man who would be acquitted of murder after claiming self-defense, sparked a sharp national focus on what were believed to be racial disparities in the application of stand-your-ground laws. 

"African-American lives are the ones that are at risk" in many self-defense shootings, he said. "We've seen case after case where there's only one surviving witness, and it's the shooter."

Formal data on the impact of race on such shootings is inconclusive.

In addition to the subtraction of the stand-your-ground provision, the law adopts the federal definition of a sawed-off firearm, bars straw-man gun purchases and allows off-duty police officers to carry weapons.

Richele O'Connor told the Dayton Daily News her group planned to continue advocating for what they call a "red flag" bill allowing law enforcement or family members to petition for a court order to remove weapons from a loved one who seems to be at risk of harming themselves or others.