Ohio

Ohio Legislature Overrides Veto on HB 228 by Charles Yeganian

The Ohio General Assembly, both the House and Senate, voted to override Kasich's veto on a gun bill. 

The bill put the burden of proof on prosecutors to prove a shooter acted in self-defense.

The gun bill Kasich vetoed at one point would have eliminated the duty of people to retreat in the face of lethal force, called in many states "stand your ground" laws. That provision was removed, but Kasich still rejected the bill.

Kasich objected to the lack of a "red flag" provision allowing relatives or police to remove guns from someone deemed a threat to themselves or others.

The bill also expands gun access for off-duty police officers and allows preemption of local gun laws. LEAP Forward has graded all action on this legislation.

Kasich Vetoes HB 228 by Charles Yeganian

Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed HB 228, sending the bill back to the state legislature, where an attempted vote to override is expected after Christmas. From NBC4i Columbus:

House Bill 228, known as the Duty to Retreat bill, shifted the burden of proof from a defendant choosing to use an affirmative defense to the prosecution. It also changed the burden from something that has to be shown to be more likely than not to something that needs to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

An earlier version of the bill included language that eliminated the duty to retreat when faced with having to use self-defense.

WFMJ:

He called calling it "baffling and unconscionable" that Ohio's GOP-controlled General Assembly was unwilling to even debate the idea.

The last paragraph of Kasich's veto message stated,

“I urge members of the 133rd General Assembly, convening in January 2019, to conduct a prolonged, thoughtful, and transparent review of state laws regarding the sale, possession, and use of firearms in order to send the next governor a bill that is not only consistent with the right to bear arms and the right of all Ohioans to robust due process protections, but that also keeps firearms out of the hands of those individuals who would use them to harm themselves or others.  Am. Sub. H.B. 228 is not that bill and signing it into law would be detrimental to the safety of all of our citizens.”

Gun safety organizations praised the Governor’s decision. Jim Seigel and Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch:

“The governor saw this for what it is — an extreme attempt to punish Ohio cities and towns for trying to address gun violence,” said Laura Lewis, volunteer leader with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety.

“Most Ohioans want our lawmakers to work together and pass bipartisan gun safety legislation, like a red flag law and legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. We want Ohio to move forward, not backward.”

Pro-gun organizations are whipping up support in favor of the override vote. Bryant Somerville, 10TV:

"I hate to jump on the bash-Kasich bandwagon, but in this case, he's really throwing a temper tantrum," Chuck LaRosa said.

LaRosa is with Ohioans for Concealed Carry. He says HB 228 wasn't about power, but about basic American freedom.

"Is there anything more American than presumed innocent until proven guilty," LaRosa asked.

Editorial Urges Kasich Veto of Ohio HB 228 by Charles Yeganian

At the core of the original bill, to underscore its stand-your-ground set of rights, was a provision upending the longstanding legal requirement in every state of the union that someone claiming they shot in self-defense show by a preponderance of the evidence that they were justified in believing that. 

Instead, it shifted -- and in the amended substitute bill headed to Kasich, still shifts -- the burden of proof to prosecutors in Ohio to show by a higher legal standard, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was not self-defense.

As prosecutors around the state have pointed out, that's an almost impossible burden when the only other witness may be lying dead. No other state has such a requirement. That was enough for Republican state Sen. John Eklund, who, like LaTourette, is from Geauga County, to break ranks and vote against this bill

If Kasich signs this bill into law -- which he should not do -- it will effectively become the presumption in Ohio that anytime someone shoots another person dead or grievously wounds them, that they were acting in self-defense.

Ohio Rep. Howse Speaks Out About Racial Component of Stand Your Ground by Charles Yeganian

In state legislatures and at the federal level, one of the key battles that pro-gun legislators are fighting is in the area of preemption and reciprocity: attempts to pass one-size-fits-all gun laws for both rural and urban areas, and then to force the weakest of these laws on everyone. This is especially true of laws that have a disparate impact on communities of color, like the “stand your ground” clause at the center of Ohio HB 228 in Ohio. In the aftermath of that debate, state Rep. Stephanie Howse, a Democrat and African-American from Cleveland, pointed out the fundamental inequity of these laws. From Peter Krouse, Cleveland.com:

As for the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Sara LaTourette, a Republican from Geauga County, represents a district that is 96.2 percent white and 1.5 percent black, while Rep. Terry Johnson of Scioto County, is from a district that is 94.9 percent white and 2.4 percent black.

And that, to Howse, is telling.

“They have a responsibility to my constituents in Cleveland,” Howse said of the representatives pushing the bill, as well as to those in Toledo, Cincinnati and other cities. “Even though they don’t directly represent us.”

Of the 32 House members who voted against the House version last month, 12 represent districts where the white population is less than 51 percent. Another 10 have districts with white populations of 80 percent or less. Only 10 have white percentages above 80 percent. One Republican, Ann Gonzalez of suburban Columbus, voted against the original bill.

LEAP Forward has graded action on this bill and scored opposition.

HB 228 on Kasich's Desk by Charles Yeganian

HB 228, which began life as a really bad, “stand your ground”-style piece of legislation in the House, emerged from the Senate as merely a pretty bad local preemption law that is now on its way to Gov. John Kasich’s desk, where its fate seems uncertain. At issue: the lack of inclusion of a provision for a “red flag” law. From Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer:

“There’s no ‘red flag’ law,” Kasich said. “I pleaded with them to put the ‘red flag’ law in there. They didn’t do it.”

Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-North Avondale, tried to add red flag language to the bill in committee and on the Senate floor that would have allowed police alone to remove guns from someone deemed a threat.

“We are seeing state after state consistently recognize that it makes practical common sense,” Thomas said. “It makes it just a little bit more difficult for someone to take up an arm and fire and kill not only himself or a family member or just citizens just because he has a sickness.”

Ohio Senate Strips Stand Your Ground Language, Passes HB 228 as Preemption Legislation by Charles Yeganian

The Ohio State Senate altered HB 228 to remove “stand your ground” language from a bill Gov. John Kasich had threatened to veto. From Nick Swartwell, City Beat:

The new version of the legislation retains a provision shifting the burden of proof from defendants onto prosecutors when it comes to self-defense claims — a standard observed elsewhere throughout the country. The bill also levies third-degree felony penalties against so-called “straw man” purchasers, or people who buy guns for other people who aren’t allowed to purchase them themselves. Another measure in the legislation would further prohibit municipalities from passing anti-gun laws.

It’s not known whether the new form of the bill will be acceptable to Kasich now that the most controversial parts are removed.

Even with the removal of the worst of the “stand your ground” provisions, LEAP Forward’s position on this legislation - and all preemption bills - is still oppose. Senate votes have been added to the Ohio Report Card.