Ohio House Passes Proposed CCW Amendments – On To Senate

The Ohio House of Representatives recently passed Ohio House Bill 203, containing several proposed amendments to Ohio’s laws on carrying concealed handguns. The vote was 62 to 27. The November 2013 House vote was 62 to 27. On Feb. 4, the bill was referred to the Senate Civil Justice committee. The House version, handed off to the Senate for review the next day, contains the following proposed amendments (among others):

(1) Expanded reciprocity with other states recognizing Ohio licenses to carry concealed handguns for self-defense;

(2) Expanding the right to “stand your ground” to not only your residence and car, but to anywhere you have a lawful right to be (i.e., including public places);

(3) Removing the necessity for a background check when a concealed handgun license-holder purchases a firearm; and,

(4) Reducing the training requirement to obtain an Ohio concealed handgun license from 12 hours to four, mandating that it include instruction on locations where carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited.  

The reciprocity provision was considered previously, in 2012, but removed from a group of amendments voted into law and implemented in March 2013. Concerns were then expressed about reciprocity with states where residents, who would be ineligible for an Ohio concealed handgun license under Ohio law, nonetheless receive reciprocal recognition of a license obtained in their own state of residence. Currently, Ohio lacks reciprocity with neighbors Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Removing a citizen’s duty to retreat from a confrontation in public places is mislabeled the “Stand Your Ground” provision, says Ken Hanson, Legislative Director of the nonprofit Buckeye Firearms Association.  But reducing the duty to retreat in a public place expands significantly upon Ohio’s current duty-to-retreat law, garnering the label the “kill at will” proposal by Cincinnati Democrat Alicia Reece. Other legislators suggested the measure would have a “devastating impact” on densely populated urban centers.

However Hanson, an attorney, pointed out in his House testimony that other states have SYG laws placing the burden on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant was not acting in self defense.

Hanson distinguished Ohio’s proposed laws. “Ohio is in the minority of one, perhaps two states, that require a defendant to prove an affirmative defense that they were acting in self-defense,” he testified.

The proposed amendments still place the burden of proof at trial on the defendant to show reasonable self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Terry Johnson, McDermott, said that under the proposed law a person who uses lethal force still has to prove he acted in self-defense, must show he did not create or prolong the confrontation, and prove that he feared suffering great bodily harm.

The amendments also seek to add a search of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to the required criminal records check for determining the eligibility of CHL applicants to receive or renew a concealed handgun license. Concurrently, no additional background check would be required for CHL holders when purchasing firearms.

Ohio now requires 12 hours of firearms instruction, including two hours of live-fire range instruction. Rep. Johnson’s original bill would have entirely removed any training requirement to receive a concealed handgun license. But the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee included the four-hour requirement before sending the substitute bill to the Senate for consideration.

To view  the version of House Bill 203 as passed by House, click here: http://lsc.state.oh.us/coderev/hou130.nsf/House+Bill+Number/0203?OpenDocument