3 Republican Senators Who Flip-Flopped on Duty to Retreat

Last month, many gun owners were disappointed to learn that a provision that would have removed the "duty to retreat" language from Ohio's self-defense test was removed from House Bill 228 before it was passed by the Ohio Senate.

While we did everything we could to preserve this language, it was deleted from the bill by a Senate committee in order to pick up votes to get it passed in the full Senate with enough votes to prepare for a veto override.

Why was this necessary? A review of our 2016 candidate surveys showed that, so long as everyone kept their word, the votes were there. However, sources in the Senate told us that some had decided to break their word and vote against the bill. Despite our best efforts, these politicians chose to side with lame-duck Governor John Kasich (R) instead of with their constituents - the people who voted them into office.

While we desire to keep our survey results confidential so that candidates can feel comfortable providing honest answers, we will never provide cover for a candidate who tells us what we want to hear on our survey in order to earn a good grade, an endorsement, and most importantly gun owners' votes, only to break that agreement after they get elected.

Therefore, as we have when similar circumstances arose in the past, Buckeye Firearms Association is publishing this article to make Ohio's 4 million gun owners aware that Republican Senators John Eklund, Stephanie Kunze, and Peggy Lehner all promised to vote for the bill before they voted against it.

That's right - when Eklund, Kunze, and Lehner needed gun owners' votes, these three Republicans knew exactly what gun owners wanted to hear.

When asked about two key components addressed in HB 228 in Buckeye Firearms Association's 2016 candidate survey, Eklund, Kunze, and Lehner told gun owners they were with them all the way.

Unfortunately, by casting their votes against HB 228, these Republicans broke their word.

Q - In Ohio, when faced with imminent death or serious bodily injury, a victim has a "duty to retreat" before using lethal force to protect his or her life or the lives of loved ones. This "duty" does not apply to someone in their occupied dwelling or car, but does on a front porch, in a detached garage, or in the yard between a car and home.

Will you support eliminating the duty to retreat for any victim facing imminent death or serious bodily harm, who is attacked in a place they have a legal right to be?

Senators John Eklund (R), Stephanie Kunze (R), and Peggy Lehner (R) answered: "Yes."

Q - The presumption of innocence is a foundation of American Criminal Law. Peculiarly, Ohio is the only State that places the burden of proof on the victim who has been forced to defend his or her life or the lives of loved ones. Accordingly, in Ohio the burden of proof is on the victim to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she was justified in using lethal force.

Will you support bringing Ohio in line with the other 49 States by changing the law so that a victim is "innocent until proven guilty" by placing the burden of proof on the State?

Senators John Eklund (R), Stephanie Kunze (R), and Peggy Lehner (R) answered: "Yes."

Shifting the burden of proof and removing the duty to retreat is EXACTLY what legislation that was recently considered in their chamber (HB 228) would do, and EXACTLY why we asked the questions. When they needed gun owners' votes, these three representatives told gun owners "YES," but on December 6 and December 27, 2018 they each voted "NO."

Without those answers to those questions, these candidates would not have received the grades BFA gave them, let alone the endorsements that came along with it.

Senator Eklund went even further, blatantly lying to his colleagues on the Senate floor during the consideration of the veto-override on December 27, claiming (see here at 14:11) "when I've asked, the only reason I've had anybody offer for [shifting the burden of proof] is because we do it that way in 49 other states. And since that time no one who I've spoken to has suggested any other reason for shifting that burden of proof."

The truth is that two Buckeye Firearms Association attorneys met with Eklund in person for about an hour in early 2018 and provided multiple detailed legal reasons why the burden shift needed to happen. On top of that, our attorneys personally handed Eklund BFA's brief on the problems of burden shift in our current law, chock-full of legal citations as well as additional supporting material.

Whether a gun owner or not, all Ohioans deserve 100% honesty from candidates and elected officials on their positions. Pandering to a group for an endorsement, and then turning their back on that pledge, is something only the worst of the worst in politics will do. If these politicians will flip-flop about one thing, how can voters count on them to keep their word on anything?

All Ohioans deserve better than these politicians gave.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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