An Ohio Senate bill would end the practice of forcing homeowners to have to prove they acted in self-defense. Instead, it would put the burden on the state to prove they did NOT act in self-defense. As it stands right now, the burden is on the homeowner in Ohio to prove they acted in self-defense if they use a gun to defend their home from intruders.
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The bill’s stated purpose is as follows:
“To amend sections 307.932, 2307.601, 2901.05, 2901.09, 2923.12, 2923.126, 2923.16, and 2953.37 and to repeal section 2923.1212 of the Revised Code to assign to the prosecution the burden of disproving a self-defense or related claim, to expand the locations at which a person has no duty to retreat before using force under both civil and criminal law, and to modify the Concealed Handgun Licensing Law regarding a licensee’s duty to keep the licensee’s hands in plain sight, the penalties for illegally carrying a concealed firearm or improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, and the posting of warning signs regarding the possession of weapons on specified premises.”
The key part of that paragraph is this “to repeal section 2923.1212 of the Revised Code to assign to the prosecution the burden of disproving a self-defense or related claim.”
Senator Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park), the Judiciary Committee Chairman, brought the bill to the committee on September 19th, 2017. The bill, SB 180, was introduced by Senators Joe Uecker (R-Miami Twp.) and Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) last August. The bill is mostly a duplicate of House Bull 228, which was introduced back in May of this year by Representatives Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland).
Jim Irvine, Chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, an Ohio group, said of the legislation, “Ohio is the ONLY state in the U.S. with this absurd requirement for burden of proof. It has been talked about in legal seminars around the country for years. It is an embarrassment to Ohio. People under attack should be able to defend their life. They should not have legal hurdles to jump before acting to defend themselves. They should not be second-guessed for years over a decision they were forced to make in a second. Ohio law should protect the victim, not the aggressor. This bill corrects this problem with Ohio law.”
When introducing the bill to the House, Representative Johnson said of the proposed legislation, “This bill seeks to protect our Second Amendment rights, while solving actual problems we are seeing today with our concealed carry and self-defense laws and it does so in a commonsense way.”
Just to be clear, in Ohio, under current law, if someone breaks into your home and you find yourself shooting that person in self-defense, the prosecution will not be forced to demonstrate that you did not act in self-defense. You will be forced to show the court that you acted in self-defense. There is in that standard a starting point of guilt, not a presumption of innocence.
The idea of the presumption of innocence goes back as far as the second century, to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, the fourth of the so-called 5 adopted, or good Emperors. Islamic law also had a standard of a presumption of innocence. But let’s go back to Pius, if we can take this in. Within an Empire, UNDER an Emperor, the Roman people were afforded a right to the presumption of innocence that homeowners defending their homes are NOT afforded in the state of Ohio, which happens to be one of the fifty states in a place that calls itself the land of the free, the home of the brave.
While it is certainly a good thing to see legislators in the House and Senate of Ohio working to correct this gross violation of basic human rights to self-defense, the question must be asked, what took you so long?
The prognosis for the legislation to pass is good given the domination of Republicans in the House, of 66 to 33, and in the Senate of 24 to 10.
The next item on the agenda of the forward-thinking Ohio legislature is to consider whether to join up with the 16 states stay part of the Northwest Territory. 1803 promises to be an exciting year.
You can read both bills here: