Editorial: Bill Improves Ohio’s Right to Self-Defense

The (Hillsboro, OH) Times-Gazette

By Senator John Carey

Imagine being in your own home, sound asleep in your own bed. Suddenly, you wake up to an unfamiliar noise. As you stumble to turn on the light, you find that a stranger has forcibly entered your home, potentially to harm you or your family.

There is a natural instinct that when someone is jeopardizing the well-being of you and your family, you will take every measure available and necessary to protect your loved ones and your home, even if it results in serious physical harm or death to yourself or the intruder.

Fortunately, our laws recognize this instinct and right to protect ourselves, our families and our homes from criminals as “self-defense.”

While Ohio has these kinds of laws in place, unfortunately they are quite cumbersome for victims who must prove that their act of self-defense was truly warranted, often at their own expense and with the threat of imprisonment looming over them.

That’s why I recently co-sponsored legislation to improve Ohio’s self-defense laws.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

Using a similar Florida law known as the “Castle Doctrine” as a model, Senate Bill 308 would allow people to use any force necessary, including deadly, for self-protection purposes.

The bill would establish the presumption that a criminal who forcibly enters or intrudes a person’s home, business or car is intending to cause severe injury or death and, therefore, gives the victim the right to use any necessary force against the perpetrator.

While some may view this bill as a “license to kill,” it’s important to note that SB 308 includes provisions to ensure the law is not abused. For example, the bill does not protect those who shoot someone who lives in the house, nor does it protect those who invite someone in to the house, shoots the guest and then tries to claim protection under the law.

Rather, the bill puts the burden back on the criminal who invades a home.

In addition to this change, this legislation would update Ohio’s “duty to retreat” provision. Under current law, a person under attack in a public place must withdraw from the situation rather than retaliate, unless he or she can prove their life is in danger.

So, this means that if you are in a public place, such as a mall or a bank, and a criminal pulls out a gun but doesn’t directly point it at you (perceivably the only way you could “prove your life is in danger”), you are required by the duty to retreat provision to run away rather than use any force to stop the criminal from harming you or those around you.

SB 308 would remove this provision, ensuring that citizens can defend themselves and “stand their ground” when outside of their homes and where they are legally allowed to be.

To provide further safeguards for Ohioans who have to defend themselves from a perpetrator, SB 308 also includes provisions to protect victims from criminal prosecution and the threat of a civil suit brought by the attacker.

No one should be in danger of prosecution because they protected themselves from a criminal that invades their home, business or car. SB 308 is a sensible bill that will ensure the right to defend yourself, your property and your loved ones is protected.

As always, I welcome your views on state issues. If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns, or if you need assistance working with a state government agency, please write to me: Senator John A. Carey, Ohio Senate, Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio 43215, or call my office at (614) 466-8156.

Sen. John Carey, R-Wellston, represents Ohio’s 17th Senate District.

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