Ohio bill would allow citizens to shoot in self-defense without retreating

Ohio bill would allow citizens to shoot in self-defense without retreating
A new Ohio bill may soon allow those using firearms in self-defense to do so without first having to retreat from their assailant. Neighboring states — Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania — already do not require retreat before using lethal force in self-defense.(Getty Images)

Legislators in the Ohio House of Representatives have proposed a bill that would allow a person to shoot an attacker in self-defense without having to first attempt a retreat, according to WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio.

Republicans Rep. Terry Johnson, and Rep. Sarah Latourette, introduced House Bill 228  on May 16. HB228 is a 56-page bill that would eliminate the requirement for a citizen to retreat before using a firearm in defense of themselves, others, or property.

Currently, Ohio law already allows citizens to use lethal force in self-defense without retreating, but only if they are in their home or their car. HB228 would expand these self-defense protections to apply in all circumstances.

The bill will also require the prosecution to prove that the shooting was not done in self defense. Current law requires the person asserting the claim of self-defense in a shooting to bear the burden of proof if charged with a crime.

Currently, the bill is being reviewed by the Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee. Johnson and Latourette are joined by 36 co-sponsors, including the chairman of the committee, Rep. Kristina Roegner, Vice Chair Rep. P. Scott Lips, and three other members committee members, all Republicans.

The bill is, however, facing opposition from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association who believe that prosecutors should not have the burden of proof of self-defense shifted onto them.

“Unless there’s outward manifestations of self-defense, it’s going to be very difficult to show what a person’s state of mind would be,” Kyle Rohrer, first assistant prosecutor for Deleware County, told WCMH.

HB228 would bring the Buckeye State into line with its neighboring states of Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania in terms of not requiring retreat before using lethal force in self-defense. However, Kentucky law puts the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove self-defense was not used, while Indiana and Pennsylvania still put the burden of proof on the shooter.

Ohio underwent a massive change to their gun laws in early 2015, making firearm ownership and operation far less cumbersome.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, these revisions to their gun laws were signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, and included allowing hunters to use suppressors on guns, as well as permitting Ohioans to buy rifles, shotguns and ammunition from any state. The state also made it a law that any concealed carry license issued in other states would be recognized in the state of Ohio, even without a reciprocity agreement.