As noted yesterday, Stand Your Ground laws are controversial, but they shouldn’t be. They don’t do anything except make it possible to defend yourself without having to look for a way to escape first.
Ohio State Senate Republicans said they were going to clarify the bill, trying to minimize the controversy.
Apparently, that statement wasn’t worth the electrons used to post it to the website.
Facing internal resistance to a stand-your-ground bill, Ohio Senate Republicans instead passed a stripped-down version of the controversial measure on Thursday that doesn’t change current state law’s duty to retreat or significantly reduce penalties for improperly carrying a concealed handgun.
House Bill 228 was amended Thursday and now focuses on shifting the burden of proof in self-defense cases to prosecutors. Supporters of the change say Ohio is the only state in the nation that requires defendants to prove by a preponderance of evidence — a lower standard than reasonable doubt — that they acted in self-defense.
“We listened to the testimony and tried to incorporate a lot of those items,” said Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee. Republican Gov. John Kasich had said he would veto a stand-your-ground bill.
The House voted 59-21 to approve the changes, sending it to Kasich.
The burden-of-proof change “would ensure that those who are accused of a crime in a self-defense case receive a fair and just trial,” said John Commerford, deputy managing director of the National Rifle Association.
County prosecutors have opposed the change, arguing that gun-rights advocates have failed to show when current law has resulted in miscarriages of justice.
Gun rights advocates don’t have to do anything of the sort. The whole idea is “innocent until proven guilty,” and that should include the burden being on prosecutors to prove someone didn’t act in self-defense.
That said, this is beyond ridiculous. This is nothing more than a case of weak Republicans trying to play nice with people who have no interest in returning the favor. Stand Your Ground laws are in 33 states in this country and while Democrats have been trying to demonize them ever since Trayvon Martin was shot for trying to bash George Zimmerman’s head in on a concrete sidewalk, there’s no real indication that they are anything other than what proponents claim them to be.
The Ohio Senate’s move is nothing more than political cowardice, but most of the blame falls on so-called Republican Governor John Kasich.
This is a man who wanted to be president? Thank God he lost in the primary. Imagine what his weak-willed stance on guns would look like from the Oval Office, rather than Columbus.
When it comes to gun rights, though, I should be content with the fact that this is still an improvement over what had been the case in Ohio. You can’t get everything you want in one fell swoop, after all. Gun owners have a little bit more room to breath than they did, and they did it in a political climate where guns and gun owners are so vilified.
I should be content, but I’m not.
And I suspect a whole lot of Ohio gun owners agree.