Bill in Ohio Senate proposes changes to ‘stand-your-ground’ law

BAUGHMAN, Ohio-- Dan Clevenger is a CCW instructor and the owner of KC's Rifle and Pistol Club in Wayne County.

As a firearms instructor for law enforcement officers and a concealed carry permit instructor for private citizens, he is very familiar with the law and the requirements to carry a concealed weapon.

He said, under the current law, the requirements are different for defending yourself inside or outside your home. Many, including Clevenger, believe that should be changed.

If threatened by an intruder, the Castle Doctrine protects a gun owner who believes they have no choice, but to use deadly force inside of their own house. But outside of the house, the current law requires even a CCW holder to make an effort to retreat first before using deadly force.

"The law in Ohio is you must retreat, if at all possible, and it's very vague. The burden of proof is now on you to prove that your life was in jeopardy before you fire," Clevenger said.

Under the proposed changes, a CCW permit holder would no longer have to retreat.

"And the burden of proof now is on the prosecution to prove that you were not in fear for your life and it makes it fairer," Clevenger said.

Ohio Senate Bill 180, which is supported by organizations like Buckeye Firearms, would do away with the requirement for permit holders to retreat; although, as Clevenger explained, they would still have to show they felt they were threatened with death or serious bodily harm, if they choose to use deadly force as a defense.

The bill would also take away the current requirement for CCW permit holders to notify law enforcement officers that they have a weapon if they are pulled over.

"One of the problems with notification that I have dealt with throughout my concealed carry instructional career is the interpretation of the officer making the traffic stop," Clevenger said.

"There's nothing in the law that says when you have to tell them. It says you must tell them. Well, if you don't tell them right away, you may have some officers that feel that is a violation and they have made arrests on that. So they are trying to eliminate that, to decriminalize that," Clevenger said.

Clevenger said when the officer pulls over a vehicle and runs its plates, he or she should already know if the person to whom that vehicle is registered also has a concealed carry license.

The proposed bill would also change the requirements for businesses to post signs notifying the public that they do not welcome firearms on their property.

Proponents said it is important because it would bring Ohio's CCW laws more in line with laws of other states around the country.

Clevenger said he believes it is just good common sense.

"These people who get concealed carry licenses are very law abiding and they would not do anything to jeopardize their right to carry a firearm," Clevenger said.