Working to help Ohioans protect themselves and their families
By State Senator Steve Buehrer
Imagine it is 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night. After turning out the lights and making sure all the doors in the house are locked, you retire to your bedroom to get some sleep before having to work early the next morning. Shortly after your head hits the pillow, you begin to hear a soft tapping outside the bedroom window. Quickly, you roll over to see what’s going on, but before you can even make it around, suddenly, the window pops open and a dark figure begins to crawl inside. Immediately, all thoughts turn to the safety of your wife and your two children asleep down the hall. You remain still as the dark figure makes its way inside your home. Then, in the moonlight, you catch the outline of what appears to be a gun in the intruder’s hand. What do you do now?
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For most Americans, the answer to this question is clear—do whatever it takes to protect yourself, your home and, most importantly, your family. Unfortunately, in Ohio, this right to defend oneself and one’s family is not so clear. As Ohio’s current law is written, in a situation like the one described above, if you were to use force to defend your family against this perpetrator, the civil and criminal burden would be placed on you to prove in court that you were truly acting in self-defense. I believe it is wrong to ask innocent Ohioans who have just been through a traumatic experience to have to go through another difficult and emotional ordeal by having to defend their actions in front of a jury.
Since the Middle Ages, people have respected the idea that a man’s home is his castle, and he should have the right to defend his castle and his family inside. Ohioans should have this same right as well. Therefore, this past week, I introduced Senate Bill 184, legislation that I hope will become Ohio’s “Castle Doctrine.” The bill, which is sponsored by Representative Lynn Wachtmann in the House, has considerable bipartisan support in both chambers and will ensure that Ohioans can be certain in their ability to protect their family and feel safe in their community.
SB184 will clarify Ohio’s Castle Doctrine law and ensure that every Ohioan has the right to defend themselves and their family against violent attack without the fear of legal recourse. The bill contains two basic parts. First, SB184 creates the presumption that if an intruder comes into a person’s home, that individual is there to do harm. Therefore, the burden will shift to the perpetrator to prove in court that they, in fact, were not climbing through the bedroom window late at night to do harm to the family that might be inside. Second, once it is proven through a legal process that a victim truly acted in self-defense, SB184 would grant that victim civil immunity.
Whether they are at home, work or out walking in the neighborhood with their family, all law-abiding Ohioans should have to right to defend themselves and their loved ones from violent attack. Our current law places an unfair burden on innocent Ohioans, and we need common-sense reforms that will put this burden back on those criminals who seek to do harm. I believe SB184 is that common-sense reform. At the end of the day, we must make sure that people feel safer in their homes and safer in their communities, and can take the affirmative steps necessary to protect themselves and their families.
I encourage all residents of the 1st Senate District to contact me with any questions, thoughts or concerns, or if you need assistance working with a state government agency. You can write me, Senator Steve Buehrer, Ohio Senate, Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio, 43215, or contact me by phone at (614) 466-8150. In addition, I can be reached by email at [email protected].