The House voted 59-21 to approve the changes, sending it to Kasich.
The burden-of-proof change “would ensure that those who are accused of a crime in a self-defense case receive a fair and just trial,” said John Commerford, deputy managing director of the National Rifle Association.
County prosecutors have opposed the change, arguing that gun-rights advocates have failed to show when current law has resulted in miscarriages of justice.
“Prosecutors aren’t charging people who justifiably are using force in self-defense right now,” said Louis Tobin, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “This makes it harder to prosecute people who are using force that is not justifiable.”
Three Senate Republicans, including Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, voted against the bill.
Sen. John Eklund, R-Chardon, said the only reason he’s heard for making the change is because other states have done it. “So what?” he said, adding that he knows of no Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering
proliferation of improper prosecution of those asserting self-defense.
Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, noted the many shooting deaths in Ohio.
“So far the response of this body has been to do nothing about that,” she said. “Even the most simple, common-sense measures have been rejected by this body. Instead, the only piece of legislation … is designed to protect the gun owner.”
A number of provisions in the House-passed bill backed by the NRA and other gun-rights organizations were stripped out, including its key element — a standyour-ground provision that would have eliminated state law’s duty to retreat, which requires someone involved in a conflict to leave the scene, if possible, before using lethal force.
“While an avenue of escape will naturally be sought if safe and available, it should not be the only option required under the law,” Commerford said.
But critics, including lawenforcement officials and prosecutors, argued that the provision was unnecessary and could lead to more firearm deaths if people are emboldened to think they no longer need to try to de-escalate a confrontation before using force.
“Studies have shown that this legislation makes communities increasingly dangerous and less safe,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.
The bill also would no longer reduce penalties for improperly carrying a firearm to minor misdemeanors. Critics said that would encourage people to skip getting a concealedcarry license.
The bill as passed also requires a concealed-carry license holder to show lawenforcement officers that license when approached, and it bans straw-man purchases — when someone buys a firearm for a person who otherwise would not be able to obtain it. It gives cities nine months to remove local gun ordinances from their books.
“I don’t think there has ever been a time when we’ve gotten everything we wanted,” said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “We will be back to work on duty-to-retreat next session. It’s a priority.”
“Even the most simple, common-sense measures have been rejected by this body. Instead, the only piece of legislation … is designed to protect the gun owner.”
Chris Dorr, director of Ohio Gun Owners, a group that has pushed for even stronger standyour-ground provisions, said, “gun owners just got stabbed in the back.” He blamed Irvine. In an email with the subject line BETRAYED, the gun owners group said,”we’re gearing up for war in the 133rd General Assembly.”
The Senate also added a provision to the bill allowing off-duty law-enforcement officers to carry a gun into restaurants, retail businesses or sports venues. Supporters say it would allow for faster responses to active-shooter situations.
Senate Democrats unsuccessfully tried to add a “red flag” amendment that would allow law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person who is considered an immediate danger to himself or others. A frustrated Kasich had sought adoption of the law and other gunsafety measures.
Rep. Sarah LaTourette, R-Chagrin Falls, a prime sponsor, said it remains good legislation.
“They removed some of the provisions that the House felt very passionately about, but they left in one of the most important pieces, which is the burden shift,” she said.