HB 233 DEFEND Act passed by House by 65-31 vote

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed Rep. John Becker's DEFEND Act (Decriminalization Effort for Ending Notorious Deaths) with a 65-31 vote, or more than a 2 - 1 margin.

The bill seeks to decriminalize so-called “no-guns" victim zones for concealed handgun license (CHL) holders.

A fact sheet Becker circulated with his co-sponsor request letter states that "the DEFEND bill threads the needle between the rights of property owners to keep guns off of their property and the public safety attributes of Ohio’s finest citizens carrying guns." Under Substitute HB 233, a CHL-holder with a concealed firearm and discovered in a gun-free zone must leave upon request.

Failure to leave subjects the person to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Currently, violators caught in most government buildings face a fifth-degree felony charge and could spend up to 12 months in prison and pay a $2,500 fine.

“Make the punishment fit the crime” is a mantra upheld as an important part of a justice system. Current penalties are so severe that they are rarely enforced because reasonable people believe the current law to be unreasonable. The accepted normal should be codified into law, which is exactly what HB 233 does.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg's astroturf gun control group Everytown For Gun Safety is flooding Ohio with emails essentially claiming that the world is about to end if this bill is passed. They were joined by the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, ACTION OHIO Coalition for Batter Women and Ohioans for Safe Communities.

Anti-self-defense rights business groups including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Manufacturers' Association, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, and Ohio Restaurant Association oppose the bill.

Law enforcement organizations including the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Association of Police Chiefs oppose the bill.

The opposition cited public safety and private property concerns, but was never able to explain why Ohio must have draconian penalties for our citizens compared to the rest of the country, or how a law-abiding citizen in possession of their gun was more dangerous than leaving the gun unattended in an automobile where it is more likely be stolen, or how all the extra handling of firearms was safer than just leaving them holstered on one’s person.

Instead of listening to the extremists' predictions of mayhem, the House sided with you, with over one half-million concealed handgun license-holders, and with common sense.

We thank Representative Becker, Chairwoman Roegner, as well as Representatives Koehler (R-Springfield) and Young (R-Leroy Township) for giving support on the House floor, and all those who voted in support of this important legislation. We especially thank those who signed on as original co-sponsors to this legislation.

We thank Speaker Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) for his leadership in moving this important legislation before the summer recess.

Click here to let legislators know you appreciate their common sense support for this legislation, and their decision to ignore the latest round of Chicken Little attacks by out-of-state anti-gun extremists.

The bill will now be taken up for consideration in the Senate this fall.

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

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association President, BFA PAC Chairman and recipient of the NRA-ILA's 2011 "Jay M. Littlefield Volunteer of the Year Award" and the CCRKBA's 2012 "Gun Rights Defender of the Year Award."

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