Ohio's Concealed Carry & Self-Defense Law Reform (HB 203) scheduled for vote in House; BFA offers testimony on two pro-gun bills

by Chad D. Baus

Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R) has scheduled House Bill 203 for a vote in the House today, Wednesday, November 20.

The move comes after the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee passed the bill yesterday on a bi-partisan 9 - 4. Click here to see how they voted.

Buckeye Firearms Association leaders are in Columbus this week offering testimony on this and other pro-gun legislation.

Before the committee vote, BFA Legislative Chair Ken Hanson testified on HB 203, which seeks to make many improvements to Ohio's concealed carry laws. His testimony follows.

November 19, 2013

Testimony of Ken Hanson Esq.
Legislative Chair, Buckeye Firearms Association
Ohio General Assembly 130 House Bill 203

Peaceably carrying a gun is not disorderly conduct.

H.B. 203 states that simply carrying a gun is not a violation of Ohio law. Last week, testimony against this provision was offered. This really is not a debate about the wording in the bill; it is debate about the public policy of Ohio. Can a citizen exercise a right without risking dangerous, armed confrontations with police? Policy decisions deserve up and down votes, not obfuscation over hypothetical situations.

Is the policy of Ohio that a citizen can exercise a right without risking armed confrontation with the police, yes or no? H.B. 203 will provide this yes or no answer.

Making CHL records public

The Ohio Chiefs of Police are again testifying that records of who possesses a Concealed Handgun License must be made public so that it can be determined if criminals are getting licenses, or are not having their license revoked once they are arrested for a disqualifying offense.

The only way that a person is getting a license, or not having their license suspended/revoked once they are arrested for a disqualifying offense, is that the police are not doing their jobs.

It has already been demonstrated, in Ohio, that any public access to CHL records will be abused by the police and the media, and no court will hold them accountable. Given that the only way a person is arrested for a disqualifying offense, and does not have their license suspended or revoked, is police officers failing to do their job, the simplest, most direct, cure is not a new massive bureaucratic process; but, rather, to hold police accountable for failing to do their job.

H.B. 203 is not racist

The most important thing to understand is there is no such thing as a "stand your ground" self-defense law. "Stand your ground" is a media label, a marketing label. Once you understand this, you understand how nonsensical the statistics offered against H.B. 203 are.

Any "statistic" that claims that "stand your ground" is used disproportionately by race X versus race Y is absurd, and no criminologist of any reputation would have their name associated with it.

"Stand your ground" has no independent meaning. What the media calls SYG in one state is completely different in other states. Demonstrably, no other state's SYG law can be compared to HB 203, because Ohio is the only (or one of two) states treating self-defense as an affirmative defense versus treating self-defense as reasonable doubt, negation of mental intent. Ohio is so out of line on this, that self-defense as an affirmative defense is referred to as the "Ohio Rule." Ohio cannot be compared to these other states as in these other states, the prosecution has the burden of proving it wasn't self-defense.

Further a jury that finds a defendant "not guilty" does not do so on the basis of "not guilty" by virtue of self-defense. The idea that any group can track why a defendant is found "not guilty" is absurd. At most, some self-appointed group scans media stories and uses this as a basis for "statistics."

Anyone offering "statistics" about which race uses "stand your ground" is attempting to turn a human right into a non sequitur race debate.

Amendments

Buckeye Firearms Association opposes proposed amendments 128, 129, 130, 131 and 133. We are neutral on proposed amendment 132.

Buckeye Firearms Association President Jim Irvine is also in Columbus, and will be offering testimony today on HB 231 (Eliminate 'No-Guns' Victim Zones) before the House Judiciary Committee. His testimony follows.

November 20, 2013

Chairman Butler, and members of the House Judiciary Committee. I speak today in support of substitute HB 231, which eliminates some restrictions on people licensed to discretely carry a handgun.

Many will question "why" these changes are needed. Defending one's life is the most basic of human rights. With guns, we are talking about constitutional rights that are enumerated at both the State and Federal level. Second Amendment rights should be treated the same as all other constitutionally-protected rights.

Those rights are not unlimited. As with other rights, there may be restrictions placed on those rights, where the state can show just cause. It is not our job to justify why we need constitutional rights. It is the duty of the state to prove a justifiable need to restrict those rights. No such proof has been offered for any aspects that HB 231 seeks to remedy.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora movie theater, Lubys Cafeteria, San Ysidro, Ft Hood. Unfortunately we have become all too familiar with these tragedies. Again and again it happens, almost always in a "gun free" zone, more appropriately labeled victim zones.

Mass killings are often planned events. The goal is to kill as many people as possible, setting a new "high score" to become famous. They are crimes of violence and control committed by a coward. The criminal looks for a place where he can kill quickly and easily in a limited time. A law that disarms his victims enables the killer.

In October 2000, John R. Lott and William M. Landes compiled a paper, "Multiple Victim Public Shootings." In it they found that the states with the fewest gun free zones have the greatest reductions killings, injuries, and attacks.[1] They concluded that differences in state right-to-carry laws are also important: restricting the places where permits are prohibited increases murders, injuries and shootings.[2]

By allowing a potential victim to defend their own life in more places, it makes law abiding citizens safer, deters would-be mass murderers, and protects the public in general. It is good public policy and I encourage your support for this bill.

Respectfully submitted,

James Irvine

Notes
1 John R Lott Jr. and William M Landes, “Multiple Victim Public Shootings” October, 2000: 18
2 Ibid: 20

Complete study can be downloaded here:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=272929

Buckeye Firearms Association will continue to provide updates on both HB 203 and HB 231 as progress is made.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, and BFA PAC Vice Chairman.

Media Coverage:

Associated Press - Broad Ohio gun bill spurs stand-your-ground debate

Cleveland Plain Dealer - "Stand your ground" bill clears legislative committee, heads to House floor

Columbus Dispatch - 'Stand your ground' gun bill gets committee approval

"There is nothing wrong with the existing self-defense standard in Ohio," Mike Weinman of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, told the committee today, arguing that "stand your ground" laws escalate violence.

"No one with proper training would believe that they need to run away when a weapon is placed upon their person by a criminal."

If that is true, then the law is flawed, said Ken Hanson, legislative chair for the Buckeye Firearms Association, because the law unnecessarily requires a person to prove he or she could not have retreated from the situation.

The law would still require a person to prove he acted in self defense, Hanson said.

Gongwer News Service - Wide-Ranging Gun Legislation Clears House Committee, Garners Array Of Witness Testimony

Speaking in support of the bill, Ken Hanson, of the Buckeye Firearm Association, argued that "really what we're voting on in HB 203 is the public policy in the state of Ohio." He added that the police need to be held accountable for doing their job, in response to concerns raised by some opponents.

The witness further urged the state to consider the "duty to retreat" logically, not emotionally, saying you can't compare what happens nationwide to Ohio.

In response to Rep. Clyde, Mr. Hanson said there isn't a "constitutional right to induce panic," but there is a right to peacefully authorize a constitutionally given power.

Ohio Public Radio - Ohio's Version of "Stand your Ground" Bill Passes House Committee

The bill that's passed the Ohio House committee is controversial. The Buckeye Firearms Association's Ken Hansen says this bill will make it easier for Ohioans to defend themselves. But he says this bill would not be like the Stand your Ground laws on the books in some other states, like Florida for example.

"So for instance, here in Ohio, the defendant has the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they were acting in self-defense," Hansen explained, "In Florida and these other states, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they weren't acting in self-defense so we are trying to differentiate the label because when they use the label, they think Ohio is doing what these other states are doing and Ohio is still going to be vastly different. We are going to be in the minority of one still that the defendant still has to prove it."

Toledo Blade - 'Stand your ground' vote on tap - Ohio's House could decide on measure as soon as today

Ken Hanson, legislative director of the Buckeye Firearms Association, told the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee that Ohio's law will remain distinctive from those of other "stand your ground" states and insisted it will not lead to government-excused shootings in the name of self-defense.

"Ohio is in the minority of one, perhaps two states, that require a defendant to prove an affirmative defense that they were acting in self-defense," he said. "The other states ... require the prosecution to prove that the defendant was not acting in self-defense."

UPI - Ohio House set to act on expanded 'stand-your-ground' bill

The proposed law would still require a person to prove he acted in self-defense, said Ken Hanson, legislative chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

WBNS (CBS Columbus) - 'Stand Your Ground' Gun Bill Clears Hurdle At Ohio Statehouse

Ken Hanson from the Buckeye Firearms Foundation say current Ohio law is antiquated and should be changed.

"Ohio is the only state that requires that a defendant prove by a preponderance of evidence they were acting in self-defense," said Hanson. "Every other state requires the prosecution to prove they weren't acting in self-defense. So there is no logical way to compare what Ohio's proposing to do compare to what other states are doing."

Gary Daniels with the Ohio ACLU says the proposed law is unfair because it targets minorities.

"There's a racial component to this," said Daniels. "There will be certain people who will be at the business end of an expansion of Stand Your Ground laws and that is the minority community."

Hanson says it should be legal for a person to fight back and use deadly force whenever attacked.

“Can a person outrun a gun? Well, no that's absurd to think about that," said Hanson. "Well then our law is absurd because we have to prove I couldn't outrun that gun. We're just trying to modernize our law like every other state.”

Daniels says there are many similarities between Ohio's proposed law and Florida’s.

"Stand Your Ground comes in all different kind of flavors and the devil is always in the details as to what legislators want to put in legislation," said Daniels.

Hanson says, if anything, the proposed law just suffers from a PR problem.

"There's no way we're going to change the labeling it's just too convenient for people to use it as a shorthand," said Hanson.

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