Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ohio Gets Castle Doctrine and CCW Reform Today!!!

On September 9, 2008, SB 184 goes into effect in the state of Ohio which updates CCW and brings the Castle Doctrine to Ohio. As an Ohio State University alumni married to a transplanted Ohioan, I have a lot of ties to the state, and I’m glad to see the citizens of Ohio getting this drastic improvement to the law. If you want to read the full text of the law, it is available on the Ohio State Legislature website. Ohioans for Concealed Carry has a full discussion of the changes on their website as well. The Ohio CCW site is written in non-legalese (i.e. “plain English”). Some of the highlights from the new law are below in italics with my comments in plain text:

Tort Reform

"Bars criminal offenders or their attorneys from recovering damages for injuries they receive while engaged in specified criminal acts even if not charged."

This is an important common sense law – if someone breaks into your home, and breaks their neck, they don’t get to sue. Similarly if someone breaks into your home, and you shoot them, they can’t charge you with assault or civil action.

Castle Doctrine

"Removes the duty to retreat from a criminal attack before using force to defend yourself or another if you are lawfully in a residence or vehicle (vehicle must be your own or that of an immediate family member). In such situations, the burden of proof that an act was not self defense falls on the prosecution provided the defender was lawfully in the residence or vehicle and the attacker was not."

This is a HUGE one because it covers not only the home but your vehicle as well. Because of the Castle Doctrine, people are able to once again actually defend themselves in their own homes.

Picking Up or Dropping Off at School

"Decriminalized ccw in a school safety zone while immediately in the process of picking up or dropping off kids at school provided the CHL holder remains in the vehicle."

This is another important one as it rules that a CCW holder can carry on school grounds in a vehicle. Unfortunately it doesn’t permit CCW in schools and retains schools as a “disarmed victim zone”, errrr, a “gun-free” zone.

Homeowner's Rights

"You are not required to have a CHL to lawfully carry concealed in your own home."

Again, this should be a no-brainer, but I’m glad to see that its explicitly written into the law.

Tenant's Rights

"Landlords cannot deny or restrict tenants who have a CHL, or guests with a CHL while the tenant is present, their right to keep and bear arms."

This one is HUGE as it allows those who rent, rather than own, their home to retain their Second Amendment Rights.

Motor Vehicle Transport

"Unloaded firearms at least twenty-four inches in overall length as measured from the muzzle to the part of the stock furthest from the muzzle with a barrel at least eighteen inches in length do not need to be transported in a closed case or secured in a rack provided they are in plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped (if both as possible). CHL holders can transport a loaded handgun in an unlocked (but closed) glove compartment or vehicle console."

Okay – so you can have your rifle in your car with fewer restrictions than before, but it still seems a bit convolved to me.

Unloaded Defined

"An unloaded firearm is defined as having no ammunition in the firearm and no ammunition loaded into a magazine or speed loader that may be used with the firearm in question and that is located anywhere within the vehicle in question, without regard to where ammunition otherwise is located within the vehicle. What this means is don’t have any magazines or speed loaders loaded in the vehicle ."

The requirements here appear to be fairly onerous to me – looks like there is still work to do in this area.

Firearms Confiscations and Surrenders

"If a firearm is confiscated or surrendered to police, they must take steps to track ownership so it can be returned in the same condition it was in when taken into custody. If a firearm is not returned and a court orders the return, the law enforcement agency is responsible for all legal fees."

Honestly this shouldn’t have had to be legislated, but in light of some recent debacles – it’s clear it did. Glad Ohio passed this one.

Overall it looks like a strong victory for Ohioans as many of their rights to carry and self defense have been restored by this legislation. Many states still have a long way to go, however, and now is not the time to become complacent.

Until next time!!!

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