Stand-your-ground gun bill revived in Ohio

Lawmakers in the Ohio Legislature have revived a stand-your-ground gun bill that would allow gun owners to use deadly force in self-defense and eliminate the duty to retreat before using force.

The measure, Senate Bill 180, was introduced Tuesday and would expand the areas in which people can use force for self-defense, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The proposal would also move over to the prosecution the burden of disproving self-defense claims.

“We want to eliminate your duty to retreat when you are under threat of violent attack,” said Republican Sen. Jay Hottinger, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It’s difficult to defend yourself when you are running away or your back is turned.”

The Ohio House passed a pro-gun bill in 2013 that included stand-your-ground provisions, but those provisions were ultimately dropped due to opposition from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, who have not changed their positions.

“We think a person who has a safe way of avoiding a confrontation should take advantage of that rather than just stand there and blast away,” said John Murphy, executive director of the attorneys association.

Current state law requires defendants to prove they acted in self-defense based on a preponderance of evidence, a standard easier to reach than beyond a reasonable doubt, and Murphy said he believed that standard should be maintained.

While FOP governmental affairs director Michael Weinman noted that even officers must try to de-escalate before using deadly force, Buckeye Firearms Association President Jim Irvine said his group supports the new proposal.

“If someone is attacking you and you are forced to defend your life, you are better off to stand your ground or advance on the other person than you are to retreat,” Irvine said.

“We know now that it’s wrong to put burdens on a crime victim. We should be helping the victim and putting the penalties on the criminal. A lot of states did this a decade ago.”

The proposal’s companion legislation, House Bill 228, already has 36 sponsors and would reduce to minor misdemeanors certain concealed-carry offenses, so long as the individual did not commit another offense while carrying the firearm.

The companion bill would also repeal the requirement to post signs prohibiting firearms at certain facilities, such as airports, K-12 public and private schools, prisons, courthouses, and other buildings.