Ohio Senate passes bill on self-defense

By Marc Kovac

The bill’s sponsor says people should not retreat in self-defense situations.

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate unanimously passed legislation that protects citizens from potential legal action in the event they use deadly force to defend themselves against intruders.

Senate Bill 184, the so-called Castle Doctrine, was sponsored by Sen. Steve Buehrer, a Republican from Delta in northwestern Ohio, as what he called “common sense” legislation and protection of a “fundamental exercise of Ohioans’ Second Amendment rights.”

The legislation, passed Wednesday, provides legal protection — that is, a presumption that they acted in self-defense — for individuals who use force to thwart others who have entered their homes, businesses or vehicles unlawfully. Dwelling, in the bill, includes homes, attached porches or other buildings.

“People have the right to defend themselves in their home,” Buehrer said in urging support for the bill. “This bill clarifies that a person in their home has no duty to retreat in self-defense situations.”

The legislation also would prevent those injured as a result of their criminal conduct from seeking civil damages.

“If you commit a crime, you do so at your own peril,” Buehrer said.

The legislation passed by a final vote of 31-0, with bipartisan support.

“I think that the issue of law-abiding citizens’ ability to defend themselves, their family and their property is one of the most important rights we have as Americans and Ohioans,” said Sen. Capri Cafaro of Hubbard, D-32nd, and one of the bill’s original co-sponsors.

Sen. Tom Sawyer, a Democrat from Akron, added that he didn’t view the legislation as a gun bill, but rather as one focused on self-defense.

“And when I stop thinking about guns, and start thinking about the baseball bat that I keep by my bed in my home, and the right that I reserve to use it to defend myself and my family in the event of an intrusion into my house, it puts a whole different light on the question,” Sawyer said. “And this bill protects me in that circumstance.”

The bill heads to the Ohio House for further consideration.

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