SB184: Castle Doctrine / Firearms bill headed to Governor for signature!

One day after the Ohio House passed amended SB184 with a strong bipartisan majority, the Ohio Senate has concurred to the improvements with an equally strong and bi-partisan 25-7 vote. A video archive of the floor debate is available here.
(Click here to see how they voted.)

The bill's sponsor, State Senator Steve Buehrer (R-Delta), noted that "while SB184 has undergone several changes over the last few months, the bill that was sent to the Governor today meets the goal of allowing people to feel safe in their homes and communities. I would like to thank all those who worked on the bill, and I urge the Governor’s support for this very important measure."

“We thank Senator Buehrer for his hard work in leading the effort to reform and modernize Ohio’s firearm and use of force laws,” said Jim Irvine, Chair of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “Ohio’s Castle Doctrine is about helping crime victims, by shifting the focus of our police and prosecutors back on the criminal where it belongs. Law-abiding Ohioans no longer have to fear getting trapped up in the legal system for having lawfully defended themselves in their home."

The bill now awaits a signature from Governor Ted Strickland (D).

"I am proud to support this important legislation that protects gun owners throughout the state of Ohio," Strickland stated. "I look forward to signing these common sense protections into law."

In addition to Ohio's Castle Doctrine protections, amended SB184 contains technical corrections and improvements including:

  • Clarification on how persons without a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) can legally transport firearms in an automobile
  • Allows lawful concealed carry in your home without a Concealed Handgun License (CHL)
  • Clarifies an unloaded firearm as one with no ammunition in the firearm or in magazines or speedloaders, regardless of where else ammunition is stored
  • Allows lawful Concealed Carry in retail establishments with a class D6/D8 liquor license (package sales only, not bars/restaurants)
  • Allows pick up/drop off by CHL holders in school safety zones
  • Provides for mandatory legal fees for gun owners who require court orders to have firearms returned to them.
  • Allows lawful Concealed Carry in state owned shelters, restrooms and parking garages.
  • Decriminalizes Concealed Carry in privately owned parking garages.
  • Prohibits landlords from prohibiting tenants from owning/carrying firearms
  • Allows CHL holders to carry firearm in unlocked glove compartment or center console.
  • Expunged/Sealed records are no longer considered when applying for a CHL.
  • Written test is no longer required for competency renewal of CHL

"The changes made in SB 184 to clarify Ohio’s concealed carry laws are meant to help lawful Ohioans more easily exercise their Second Amendment rights," said Buehrer. "These folks deserve to have a common sense law that they can understand and follow."

"This is an important law for all law-abiding gun owners," agreed Irvine. "It fixes many problems that have plagued hunters and concealed carry license holders for years. Good people who have been entrapped by bad laws finally have a simple and understandable way to transport firearms. We thank the legislature and the Governor for addressing these important issues."

Several law enforcement agencies strenuously objected to defining a "loaded gun" to mean specifically a gun with ammunition in the gun. They seem to prefer the current confusing and haphazard standard that will be fixed by this bill.

The Ohio Prosecutors Association vehemently objected to the change which will require them to assume crime victims are innocent until proven guilty. They argued to keep in place an unfair system where crime victims must prove their innocence after they successfully stop a violent attack with deadly force. In the past, victims have been presumed guilty until they proved themselves innocent.

SB184 will reduce penalties for good people ensnared by confusing laws. This change focuses our criminal justice system on punishing criminals and removes undue burden from law-abiding gun owners, police, and the general population.

PLEASE CALL GOVERNOR STRICKLAND to thank him for his support - 614-466-3555

CLICK HERE to download the Act.

HOW THEY VOTED in the HOUSE.

CLICK HERE to download a summary of the improvements.

SB184 Analysis: Significant practical improvements for ALL Ohioans


Media coverage:

  • Columbus Dispatch - Strickland gets bill easing gun laws

    [T]he governor is eager to sign into law a bill approved today that relaxes a number of gun laws, allowing people to carry firearms in the cab of a vehicle and prohibiting landlords from telling tenants they cannot own guns.

    “The governor is looking forward to signing this legislation, which he believes will offer law-abiding gun owners appropriate and legal protections,” spokesman Keith Dailey said.

    [G]roups representing county sheriffs, police chiefs, county prosecutors and officers have spoken out against it, concerned that their safety is threatened by a provision allowing anyone to carry a gun inside a car, with the ammo stored nearby.

    Robert Cornwell, director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, told the Associated Press this week, “Obviously, he (Strickland) does not support law enforcement and its concerns.”

    Dailey responded: “(Strickland) obviously respects law enforcement's opinion, but in this instance, there's a difference of opinion on the policy.”

    The bill, pushed by the National Rifle Association, also would establish a new “castle doctrine” that presumes that a person acted in self defense when shooting someone who entered his or her home unlawfully. Supporters say it will protect the innocent from facing charges, but prosecutors have argued that it more likely will aid criminals.

  • (Columbus') The Other Paper - Gun Shy: Has it become elitist to support firearms restrictions?

    In years past, “Gun owners watched as gun bill after good gun bill either died or was watered down in a GOP-controlled legislature,” wrote Chad Baus, a member of the Fulton County Republican Central Committee and vice chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, in a blog posted on the group’s website.

    For 16 years, Republican lawmakers found it necessary to go slow on gun laws in order to appease their party’s governor, whether it be Bob Taft, a Cincinnati native, or George Voinovich, former mayor of Cleveland, Baus said.

    ...The Buckeye Firearms website takes aim at “the elitist union leaders at the Fraternal Order of Police.”

    “It’s very elitist to tell people what rights you think we should have,” said Jim Irvine, the group’s director.

    Most politicians and urban dwellers have never handled a gun and therefore have an unnecessary fear of firearms.

    “Mayor Coleman doesn’t know which end of a gun the bullet comes out of,” Irvine said. But firearms could go a long way to protect law-abiding residents from crime.

    “Criminals are lazy. They go after the easy targets,” he said. There may not be a deer at Broad and High, but there could just as easily be “a 300-pound 6-foot-tall animal of a person waiting to attack.”

  • Dayton Daily News - Ohio Senate approves expanding gun owners' rights

    On Thursday, the Senate gave final approval to legislation expanding gun owners' rights and sent it to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland

    Keith Dailey, Strickland's spokesman, called provisions in the legislation "common sense protections for law-abiding gun owners."

    The bill, approved 25-7 in the Senate, would allow people who are eligible to own guns but don't have concealed carry permits to carry unloaded firearms and ammunition in their vehicles.

    It also would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry a loaded handgun in an unlocked glove compartment or center console, as long as it was closed. In addition, the bill would allow concealed carry in shelters – including those in state parks, restrooms and parking garages.

    The provisions were added to legislation enacting the so-called "castle doctrine" – giving Ohioans the right to defend themselves against intruders with guns, baseball bats or anything else without having to prove they acted in self-defense.

    It would be up to prosecutors to prove they didn't act in self-defense.

  • Toledo Blade - Ohio set to expand limits on self-defense

    Potential victims who harm or kill apparent intruders in their homes or vehicles would get the legal benefit of the doubt under a just-passed bill destined to get Gov. Ted Strickland's signature.

    Sponsored by state Sen. Stephen Buehrer (R., Delta) and pushed by the National Rifle Association, the measure served as a magnet for changes to Ohio's 4-year-old law allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns.

    The changes will make it easier for motorists to carry weapons in their cars and in school zones and will prohibit landlords from forbidding tenants from having guns in their rented residences.

    The measure was among a flurry of bills sent to the governor this week as lawmakers near summer recess. It won strong bipartisan support in both chambers, despite a lack of support from some law enforcement organizations.

    The bill would take effect 90 days after Mr. Strickland signs it.

    "He believes the legislation provides law-abiding gun owners with appropriate and reasonable protections, and he's looking forward to signing the bill," said Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey.

    Commonly called the "Castle Doctrine," the bill shifts the burden away from the apparent victim to prosecutors and police to prove that an individual did not act in self-defense. The bill specifies that the legal resident does not have a duty to retreat when someone is illegally entering or attempting to enter his home or car.

    "A lot of people believe that's the current law, that you have the ability to protect you and your family in your house," Mr. Buehrer said. "They are shocked to find out that's not the case. The general law in Ohio is if you're attacked, you have a duty to retreat. The courts have recognized that if you're in your home, you don't have a duty to retreat, but we're only one prosecutor or one judge away from losing that right in case law in Ohio."

    ...After the bill passed the Senate, the House attached a number of amendments changing Ohio's concealed-carry law, particularly as it applies to carrying guns in vehicles.

    When originally passed in 2004, the law required motorists to have the gun "in plain sight" so that it could be seen by a law enforcement officer approaching a vehicle. Later it was changed to require the gun to be holstered on the person in plain view or locked in a glove compartment or other box.

    The latest version allows a motorist to keep a gun in an unlocked glove compartment or a center console, but the driver must still inform an officer that he is a permit-holder and has a gun in the vehicle.

    "Current law doesn't make sense," said Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association. "You can't put a gun in an unlocked glove box and you can't put it in a center console, but you can have it in a purse or brief case right next to you. We're trying to make the law work. Every change was to address real problems."

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