HB 228 (Fix Burden of Proof/ Concealed Carry Modernization) passed out of committee with 7-3 vote

HB 228, sponsored by Terry Johnson (R) and Sarah LaTourette (R), passed out of the House Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The vote was 7-3 along a straight party-line vote. [Editor's Note: the vote count was originally reported here as 7-4. However, one democrat was absent. We regret the error.]

We thank Chairwoman Kristina Roegner (R) and all the committee members who have listened, studied and asked intelligent questions of witnesses as the bill has made its way through several revisions and a total of seven hearings. Rep. Roegner has dealt with a wealth of issues on this bill, and strong pressure from anti-gun forces, especially since the Parkland massacre, and has done an exemplary job managing the bill through her committee.

It is rather interesting that Democrats, who purport to represent people who live in urban areas, where there is more crime, and who they often claim are often wrongly accused by police, would vote against a bill that puts the burden of proof on prosecutors, where it belongs, instead of on crime victims.

While many people have rallied against removing the “duty to retreat” language, no one has been able to explain the list of legal hoops the state should create for a crime victim to jump through just before or while someone is trying to kill them.

For the hard-core gun people (either pro- or anti-), this bill is about guns. But most people just want the legislature to enact good public policy. If we get past all the rhetoric, this bill is excellent public policy.

If enacted, the bill would:

  • Correct Ohio law on burden of proof. Currently the Federal Government, U.S. territories, and 49 states have the burden of proving someone committed a crime to convict them and deny them their rights. The same is true in Ohio, in almost every situation. This change simply makes Ohio like every other state, and prosecution of someone who wrongly claims self-defense like every other criminal prosecution. Innocent until proven guilty. Simple stuff and the most important aspect of this bill.
  • Eliminate “duty to retreat” from some sections of code. In Ohio and many other states, a person attacked in their home or car may defend their life. But in Ohio there are “duties” of the crime victim if they are in their own driveway between their home and car. Eliminating the “duty to retreat” will make the standard for defending one’s life uniform and not dependent on where the victim happens to be when they are attacked. It is important to note that it does not change the standard of what constitutes a deadly force threat or what constitutes a legal use of deadly force in self-defense or defense of another.
  • Modifies penalties for concealed handgun licensees (CHLs) failure to “promptly” inform law-enforcement they are armed during an official stop. Current law has created problems for license holders and police since its inception and is being modified to more closely match what the vast majority of police/prosecutors do when a CHL inadvertently violates this section of the law.
  • Adds a requirement that hands must be in plain sight “unless impractical” for license holders during an official stop by police. There are times when complying with officer’s instructions and the law are impossible to do at the same time.
  • Eliminates the requirement of places that allow concealed carry to post signs prohibiting concealed carry. Yes, current law is that insane. Another fix that everyone should support.
  • Prohibits public housing from denying tenants their right to lawfully-possessed firearms.
  • Provides for a safe harbor for a spouse or other unlicensed individual driving a car that another person has left a firearm in.
  • Eliminates the requirement for license holders to carry a second form of ID while in possession of a firearm.
  • Increases penalties for people illegally buying a gun to sell to a prohibited person.
  • Modernizes Ohio’s definition of a shotgun to match Federal law and allow for possession of guns that are specifically approved by BATFE (such as the Mossberg Shockwave).

The bottom line is that every provision in this bill is good public policy. It should be supported by any person who wants criminals punished and good people to not be unfairly harassed, prosecuted, persecuted, or convicted.

Click here to read a summary of the current version of Substitute HB 228.

Click here to read the text of a companion bill in the Senate, SB 180.

There has been some confusion over an amendment that Representative Paul Zeltwanger wanted the committee to adopt before moving the bill. His amendment was tabled. We cannot comment on the merits of the amendment because we have not seen it. Calls to Representative Zeltwanger’s office were not returned. It should be noted that Rep. Zeltwanger has a good voting record on Second Amendment issues and is probably trying to make the bill better. But this bill was introduced over a year ago and has undergone six prior hearings and multiple substitute bills. There is no reason to amend an excellent bill the day it’s being voted out of committee, denying committee members the ability to fully digest the change, and denying citizens the right to read and comment to their elected officials on them.

We look forward to working with Representatives Johnson, LaTourette, Zeltwanger and all House members to bring this important bill to a floor vote. When the bill passes the House, it will move to the Ohio Senate where more discussion, debate, and probably amendments will be considered.

We thank Chair Roegner and Vice Chair John Becker for their leadership and perseverance in taking a good bill, helping reform and improve it and passing it out of their committee for further consideration.

We also thank all those who testified for HB228 or contacted their Representatives about this important legislation.

Jim Irvine is President of the Buckeye Firearms Association. He is also recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award," the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award," and the SAF's 2015 "Defender of Freedom Award."

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