H.B. 228: Veto override is start of push to protect Ohioans' Second Amendment rights
The recent battle over House Bill 228 proves that power and money don't always win when it comes to Ohio law. But it also proves that the fight never ends when it comes to protecting Ohioans' Constitutional rights.
The Ohio General Assembly showed true grit in returning during Christmas break to override Gov. John Kasich's veto, but it took removing "duty to retreat" and other provisions to get it done.
"The key with H.B. 228 was that it shifted the burden of proof to the prosecution," said Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "The 'duty to retreat' provision often is misunderstood. Even still, we're not settling. A new slate of lawmakers and a new governor will start this month, and we'll continue fighting to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Expect 'duty to retreat' to be part of that effort."
As for H.B. 228, Kasich used the full power of his office to kill the bill that sought to update Ohio gun laws. Not only did he vow to veto it, representatives from his office also worked with legislators to introduce poison-pill amendments and strip away Republican support.
When the act came to his desk, he held it until the very last day of the 10-day veto window, hoping that legislators would go home for the Christmas holiday and be unavailable for a vote to override.
However, with gun owners across the state delivering thousands of emails and phone calls in support of the bill, House members voted 67 to 22 to override the veto. Senators likewise overrode the veto, in a 21 to 11 vote.
The Governor wasn't the only one working against the bill. Gun control groups from outside Ohio, including Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, descended on the Statehouse to convince lawmakers that H.B. 228 would "make murder legal" and cause a wave of violent crime and racist violence across the state.
Other opponents included the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, The Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, State Highway Patrol, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, CAIR-Columbus, Ohio Conference of NAACP, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, Columbus City Attorney’s Office, Amnesty International USA, Cleveland City Council, League of Women Voters of Ohio, Corporation for Supportive Housing, ACLU of Ohio, National Council of Jewish Women, Catholic Conference of Ohio Ohio Municipal League, and many more.
"In the end, gun owners won and did so without big power or big money to back them up," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a nonprofit, grassroots organization that advocates for Second Amendment rights.
"Despite the apocalyptic and insulting predictions from gun control advocates, H.B. 228 sought simple, logical changes that most people find reasonable. I have to wonder if opponents even read the bill before deciding to oppose it," Rieck continued.
While the widely misunderstood "duty to retreat" provision was stripped from the bill in the Senate, the provisions in the final version of the bill included common sense concepts, such as:
- Shifting the burden of proof to the prosecutor in matters of self-defense. Ohio is the only state in the U.S. that makes gun owners "guilty until proven innocent" when they defend themselves with a firearm. H.B. 228 brings Ohio into line with all 49 other states and preserves the core doctrine that every citizen should be innocent until proven guilty of a crime.
- Strengthening "preemption" provisions in Ohio law that prevent local governments from passing their own gun laws. This prevents a confusing patchwork of municipal ordinances around the state where you could literally be a law-abiding citizen in one city and instantly become a criminal if you drive into another city.
- Eliminating the requirement to post no-gun signs in locations which have authorized the carrying of firearms. Such Illogical and confusing requirements have no place ion Ohio law. Property owners should be able to decide for themselves whether they allow firearms and whether they post no-gun signs.
- Putting teeth into the law so that authorities can prosecute criminals who make "straw" purchases for felons. Why would anyone oppose giving prosecutors the tools they need to enforce the law and punish those who furnish firearms to individuals who are legally ineligible to possess them?
"It's frustrating to hear people talk about the powerful and rich 'gun lobby' in Ohio," says Rieck.
"People like Michael Bloomberg are literally pouring millions of dollars a year into big national groups like Everytown to come into Ohio from the outside to oppose our bills, organize gun control advocates, and furnish attorneys to fight legal battles against us.
"Who is the gun lobby in Ohio? That's us. We're real grassroots. We don't have millions of dollars. All we have is 4 million gun owners who want their voices heard. They want to be left alone to enjoy their Constitutional rights as law-abiding American Citizens.
"We won a stunning victory with H.B. 228. Not because of power or money. The other guys have all of that. We won because we're right and because we reminded legislators that they represent us. And sometimes, legislators do the right thing for the right reason."