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Ohio House Delays Vote On 'Stand Your Ground' Bill

James D. Case

The Ohio legislature's standoff over "Stand Your Ground" has been pushed back to the fall.

Though the Ohio House widely expected on Wednesday to pass HB 228, the chamber delayed the vote until after summer break - and possibly after November's election.

"Stand Your Ground," which is supported by pro-gun groups, removes the requirement for people to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. It also places the burden of proofon prosecutors, instead of requiring defendants in self-defense cases to prove they're not guilty.

Both the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and state public defenders have criticized the bill for this shift.

"Stand Your Ground" won approvial in a House committee in May, and House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) said the Republican supermajority had enough support to pass the bill.

The bill met opposition in Gov. John Kasich, who said he planned to veto if lawmakers put the bill on his desk. Smith said the House could overturn that veto if necessary.

On Monday, the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America attempted to deliver about 2,000 signatures opposing "Stand Your Ground" to Smith's office. Chapter director Michele Mueller says the legislation would make Ohio more dangerous.

"This allows, though, an individual, a person to shoot to kill in public when there's an actual, clear and safe alternative," Mueller says. "What we're asking our lawmakers to do is to stand with the majority of Ohioans, and really just the groundswell that we're seeing for common sense gun legislation across the nation, and not weaken our gun laws."

HB 228 does more than make Ohio a "Stand Your Ground" state, though. The bill also prevents municipalities from passing any local gun control measures, something both Columbus and Cincinnati recently attempted to do.

It also expands the right to concealed carry in Ohio, something that GOP lawmakers have been slowly pushing for over the past few years. The bill reduces the severity of several concealed carry violations, and removes the requirement for places like schools, courthouses and airports to post "gun-free zone" signs.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders say they won't consider gun control measurespushed by Kasich, including a "red flag law" and a ban on bump stocks and armor-piercing ammunition. The reforms are also backed by school and police groups, although no lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors.

Despite the lack of legislative support, Moms Demand Action plans to continue advocating for reforms.

"They'll see us in the campaign trails, in the town halls, scheduling visits in their offices, and trying to persuade them and urge them to bring this bill to a vote," Mueller says.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.