Home Politics Controversial ‘stand your ground’ bill passes Ohio House

Controversial ‘stand your ground’ bill passes Ohio House

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The front line of the battle over gun regulation has come to Columbus, Ohio.

On Wednesday, the Ohio House of Representatives voted 62-27 to pass House Bill 203, better known as the “stand your ground” proposal. The bill, if signed into law, will allow gun owners to defend themselves with force in public areas such as stores and streets. Under current law, gun owners may only defend themselves on private property.

The bill has attracted no small amount of opposition, as Democrats and other various groups have banded together to stop the bill. They have failed to prevent its passing in the House, but the bill must still make its way through the Senate and be signed by Gov. John Kasich to become law.

Support for the bill has been bipartisan. Athens’ own representative Debbie Phillips, a Democrat, voted in support of the bill. Opposition was entirely Democratic, and the Democrats who voted against the bill represented urban districts such as those in and surrounding Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

The law’s most outspoken opponent is Rep. Alicia Reece of Cincinnati. She has led a determined opposition that has rallied, signed petitions, and flooded the governor’s office with phone calls asking him to veto the law.

Reece and her constituents have drawn unfavorable comparisons between with HB 203 and the “stand your ground law” used in Florida. The limits of the Florida law were tested under the glare of the national spotlight when George Zimmerman shot and killed a teenage African-American boy named Trayvon Martin. Many gun-control advocacy groups believe that the passage of this bill could lead to similar deaths in Ohio.

Those who backed the bill believe that Ohio’s current gun laws are outdated and badly in need of a change. The bill will also expand background checks, expand recognition of out-of-state permits, and reduce the required training period from twelve hours to four in addition to the self-defense change.

Among those supporting the bill is Jim Irvine, the chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

“This is a very substantial gun bill. It fixes a lot of problems with Ohio gun laws and aligns them more with federal laws and gun laws in other states,” Irvine told The New Political.

Irvine explained the reduction in the training period by saying that some citizens displayed the proper knowledge required in a few sessions and did not need to take all 12 hours. He believes that people who didn’t have the time or money to participate it training sessions, which can be more than $100 an hour, will join now that the time requirement has been lowered.

“More people will sign up and take the class, which is good for Ohio. We ought to teach everyone.”

As for the “stand your ground” portion of the bill, Irvine says that the change will be minor. Unlike other states, including Florida, the burden of proof will remain on the gun owner in a scenario in which a gun is used for self-defense. For the gun owner to legally defend himself, the target must have the ability, proximity, and intent to do harm. If the target lacks one of these requirements, any gun owner who opens fire will be breaking the law.

Despite what he believes is a small change to the gun laws, Irvine knows it will continue to be a fight to pass this bill in the state senate.

“Instead of facts, we have to discuss emotions and ridiculous accusations,” Irvine said in response to criticism of the bill.

 

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