Headline: Central Ohio legislators support 'castle doctrine' bill

(Columbus) ThisWeek is reporting reasons for which several Central Ohio legislators, including state senators Tim Schaffer, Steve Stivers, and David Goodman and state representatives Larry Flowers, Jay Hottinger and Jon Peterson, are supportive of Castle Doctrine legislation (SB184/HB264), recently introduced by State Senator Steve Buehrer.

Click 'Read More' for the quotes from several of the legislators, and to view a letter to the editor supportive of Castle Doctrine that was published in the (Ravenna) Record Publisher.

From the story:

    A nightmare scenario feared by gun owners would be no more under companion House and Senate bills that would establish the "castle doctrine" under Ohio law.

    S.B. 184 and H.B. 264 would protect anyone who uses deadly force to defend themselves or another person from any civil liability against the person who created the threat against whom the deadly force was used.

    "This is a traumatic thing as it is. If someone breaks into your house and you've used a gun to protect yourself, the burden should not be on you to defend a suit in court," said State Rep. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark). "The burden should be on the person who feloniously attacked you. The law-abiding citizen should have a presumption of innocence. And it's only unless proved otherwise. You can't just start shooting."

As the newspaper reports, under the legislation, any person who has successfully established an affirmative defense to criminal liability for the use of deadly force would have no civil liability to the person injured.

Again from the story:

    The defense would be considered established under three circumstances: A prosecuting attorney declines to bring criminal charges against the person using deadly force; a grand jury finds that the person acted in self-defense; the person has been acquitted after a trial on the grounds of self-defense.

    State Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) said he supports the bill because it reinforces the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    "I think (this bill) is necessary," Schaffer said. "It reflects a broader cultural understanding we've had since Revolutionary times. You are protected in your house from government interference. We have the right to protect ourselves from unlawful intrusion."

    In addition to the outright bar against civil liability to an injured person against whom the justified deadly force was used, the bills would also modify technical legal procedures about "rebuttable presumptions" and "burden of going forward" in criminal prosecutions of those who claim they acted in self-defense.

The story goes on to explain that the bill provides that, if the person against whom the deadly force was used was committing a felony or a forcible trespass upon the home of the person accused of using deadly force illegally, then there is a rebuttable presumption that the person who acted in self-defense acted properly.

"We're changing the presumption of innocence, shifting it from the law breaker to the law abider," Hottinger is quoted as saying. "It's an upside down world when someone can break into your house, and you defend yourself, and you then find yourself defending a lawsuit. The burden of proof shouldn't be on you for acting in self-defense."

Following is a letter to the editor supportive of Castle Doctrine that was published in the (Ravenna) Record Publisher.

July 24, 2007
(Ravenna) Recourd Publisher

To ease gun control laws

State Sen. Steve Buehrer has introduced legislation in the state senate to allow people to take the necessary steps in a potentially life-threatening situation to defend their home or business.

This change would eliminate that part of the law where charges are brought against the citizen for defending his property or himself in a deadly threatening situation. It has been passed in 19 states and crime has dropped.

Of course, The current law gave us the right to bear arms in Ohio, legally. In every law written, it is not perfect and does not make everyone happy.

But if a citizen defends his property (home or business) against intruders, he should not be charged and be required to justify his action. He has a right to bear arms and defend himself.

I support State Sen. Steve Buehrer proposal and endorse the backing by the NRA of this proposal.

Bill Davis

Related Story:
Buckeye Firearms Association Endorses HB264/SB184; Castle Doctrine Legislation

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