Editorial: SB308 Will Protect Ohio's Right To Self-Defense

By Senator Larry A. Mumper

Everyday, communities all across the country are touched by the damaging
effects of violent crime. In fact, according to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, there were more than 1.3 million violent crimes—murder,
forcible rape, aggravated assault or robbery—nationwide in 2004. Of
these crimes, nearly 22 percent involved a weapon. Fortunately, over the
last decade, the overall crime rate has been on a steady decline, yet,
every year, thousands of Ohioans find themselves the targets of a
violent attack. In such a situation, it is only natural that a person
would take every measure possible to protect themselves, their families,
and their home from these vicious criminals.

While Ohio law recognizes a victim’s right to self-defense, the current
law places the civil and criminal burden on the victim to prove in court
that they were truly acting to defend themselves. That is why I recently
co-sponsored Senate Bill 308, legislation modeled after Florida’s
“Castle Doctrine” that would make much-needed reforms to Ohio’s
self-defense laws. Introduced March 30 by Senator Lynn Wachtmann, the
bill would establish the presumption that a criminal who forcibly enters
or intrudes into a person’s home, business, or occupied vehicle is there
to cause death or great bodily harm, and therefore gives the victim the
right to use any manner of force, including deadly force, against the
perpetrator. SB 308 also referred to as “Stand-Your-Ground” or “No
Retreat” legislation, gives victims the power to protect themselves
without having to defend their actions in front of a jury.

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

Laws similar to SB 308 are often wrongly characterized as a “license to
kill.” However, the bill is written in a way to make sure the law is not
abused. For instance, a person cannot shoot someone who lives in the
house and enjoy the presumption of innocence in their favor, nor can a
person invite someone into their home, shoot them and claim protection
under the law. Instead the bill merely places the burden of proof with
the criminal and not the victim in a reliable self-defense case.

Senate Bill 308 also makes changes to an outdated “duty to retreat”
provision in Ohio law that requires a person under attack in a public
place to withdraw from the situation, rather than retaliate, unless they
can prove their lives are in danger. This means if you were in a public
place and a criminal were to pull a gun out but the gun was not directly
pointed at you, then you would be required to run away rather than use
force to try and protect yourself and the people around you. Currently,
if you were to use force in this situation, the burden of proof would be
placed on you to prove in court that your life was in danger. SB 308
removes the “duty to retreat” when citizens are outside of their homes
and where they have legal right to be.

To further secure Ohioans’ right to self-defense, SB 308 provides that
if a person is using force to protect themselves from an attacker, they
would be protected from criminal prosecution and the threat of a civil
suit brought by their attacker.

Aside from the work being done to pass Senate Bill 308, the Ohio General
Assembly has taken additional steps to protect self-defense rights. In
2004, the legislature adopted House Bill 12, Ohio’s Concealed Carry Law
that recognized the rights of every Ohioan to bear arms for their
defense and security. Currently, the GA is working to pass House Bill
347, legislation that will revise Ohio’s concealed carry laws by
addressing a handful of issues that have arisen since the adoption of HB

Ohio’s Concealed Carry Law is important in protecting our 2nd Amendment
right to bear arms, but without proper self-defense laws, Ohioans
looking to protect themselves from violent crime by using a weapon must
think twice about their action. Law-abiding Ohioans should be able to
protect themselves and their loved ones from dangerous criminals without
having to prove to a jury that their actions were warranted. Senate Bill
308 will drastically improve Ohio’s law and work to protect all Ohioans’
right to self- defense.

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 government agency, please write to me: Senator Larry A. Mumper, Ohio
Senate, Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio, 43215, or call my office at (614)

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