Lawmakers send controversial gun bill to Mike DeWine

Credit: Laura A. Bischoff

Credit: Laura A. Bischoff

A controversial “stand your ground” gun rights bill is heading to Gov. Mike DeWine, a Greene County Republican who promised to push through gun reforms after the mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District.

The Ohio House voted 51-31 late Thursday in favor of the measure. The Ohio Senate voted 18-11 on Friday. Four Republicans, including state Sen. Peggy Lehner of Kettering, joined Democrats voting against the bill.

Under current law, Ohioans have a “duty to retreat” from danger in public places before using deadly force in defense of themselves or others. Senate Bill 175 would remove that duty.

“Stand Your Ground” is opposed by many county prosecutors and police chiefs, including Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, who said it would make communities less safe and encourage armed vigilantism.

But state Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, said it’s a simple change that will clarify self-defense law and he disputed the “stand your ground” label.

Sending the bill to DeWine puts the governor in a difficult position. DeWine has been non-committal on whether he’d sign or veto it. Overriding a veto requires 20 votes in the Senate and 60 in the House.

In the months after the Dayton mass shooting, DeWine proposed a package of gun law changes that included a voluntary background check system for private party sales, an expansion of 72-hour hospital holds to include people suffering from chronic alcoholism or substance abuse disorder, and stiffer penalties for repeat offenders who use firearms. But that package failed to gain traction in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

“Stand Your Ground” opponents warned that it could disproportionately impact people of color and they noted it goes against what Dayton residents pleaded for after the mass shooting.

Dion Green, whose father Derrick Fudge was murdered in the Dayton shooting, testified against the bill. “More will die if this bill passes,” Green told lawmakers this week.

Lawmakers this week put the final touches on a $2.1 billion, two-year capital spending plan that includes money for schools, prisons, parks and community projects. The House voted 77-7 and the Senate voted 29-0 in favor of the capital budget bill.

Here’s a look at some significant changes to Ohio’s gun laws over the years:

1859: Ohio bans carrying concealed weapons.

2004: Ohio enacted its first concealed carry weapons permitting system.

2006: Lawmakers approve a bill to pre-empt local jurisdictions from having their own firearms laws. The new law expands the CCW program.

2008: Ohio passes a law expanding the right to use deadly force to defend a home or vehicle. Signed by Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, it is heralded by the NRA as the most sweeping gun rights bill adopted in any state in a decade.

2011: Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signs into law a measure that allows CCW permitholders to carry guns into bars, restaurants, shopping malls, museums and other places.

2012: Kasich signs another CCW bill into law that allows gun owners to keep firearms in the vehicles in parking facilities.

2014: Kasich signs into law the use of noise suppressors while hunting, a reduction in CCW required training hours to eight from 12 and an expansion of reciprocity of CCW permits with other states. The new law also removes semi-automatic weapons that fire 31 or more cartridges without re-loading from the list of highly regulated dangerous ordnances.

2016: Kasich signs into law a measure to allow CCW permitholders to carry weapons on college campuses, in day care centers, inside public areas of airports and elsewhere. The new law also blocks businesses or property owners from barring CCW permitholders from keeping their firearms in their vehicles.

2018: Following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Kasich changes his position on gun control and backs measures to enhance background checks, prohibit bump stocks, red flag laws and more.

2018: Lawmakers approve a change to self-defense law to shift the burden of proof to the prosecution, instead of the accused. It aligned Ohio law with laws in 49 other states.

2019: Following a mass shooting in Dayton, Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, advocates a 17-point plan for gun restrictions and increased mental health services.

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