21 May 2008

Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee Considers Important Castle Doctrine Amendments

The Ohio House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee met today to consider amendments to the Castle Doctrine legislation (the Senate version is SB 184) being considered. The House is due to recess in about two weeks for its summer break, and has left a lot of business unfinished, including this vitally important citizen safety legislation.

I attended the hearing for about an hour and a half this morning, before leaving for an appointment that helps pay the bills. Nevertheless, it was interesting to hear the lineup of people who, after this legislation has languished for nearly a year, suddenly are taking an interest and who have problems with the bill. Now, while opponents are mixed on the entire idea of Castle Doctrine (criminal and civil immunity for lawfully using potentially deadly force while in your home or car to defend yourself), a series of important amendments put forth by Buckeye Firearms Association met a solid wall of opposition from law enforcement organizations, largely objecting not on any real statistical grounds, but because they are police officers, and we should listen to them . . . because they are police officers.

With me yet?

In the end, the committee only discussed the amendments. They took no action because the amendments were never formally introduced. But they were debated.

First up was Mike Taylor, head of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police. He had a laundry list of issues. But in every case when he asked, his response was something like this (and I am paraphrasing), "I really don't have any statistics on that." Or, "I don't know." But he knows he doesn't like the amendments, which are actually numerous fixes to Ohio's problem-plagued concealed carry (CCW) law.

Also heard were representatives of the Ohio Chiefs of Police, a scandal-plagued group with little credibility, and the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, which reportedly also objects to many of the amendments to fix CCW. This is a strange turnabout since BSSA has been a stalwart supporter of CCW reform in Ohio for years. Ohio's 88 sheriffs, which few exceptions, strongly supported CCW when it passed four years ago, after a 10 year battle in the Ohio General Assembly. That this fine organization now is changing its stance is more than a bit troubling.

Among the Ohio FOP objections:

1) Definition of "loaded firearm." Ohio is one of only a handful of states that still defines a "loaded" firearm as being unloaded, but with the ammunition ready-at-hand. Essentially, within reaching distance. Ohio FOP does not want "loaded firearm" language to be reformed to mean exactly that, a gun with ammunition in the firearm itself.

2) Katrina Provision. This would put into the Ohio Revised Code language that makes it illegal for law enforcement to arbitararily confiscate firearms from someone in their home if they are otherwise obeying the law. This occurred in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. More than 20 states, and the federal government, have sinced passed laws banning such arbitrary and illegal actions. Ohio FOP says if children were surrounding an abandoned gun on the street, they would not be permitted to pick it up and secure it because it might belong legally to someone who is law abiding.

More to come . . .

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am extremely pro-carry CHL holder, but despite this, I'm going to (mostly) back the FOP on this one for a couple reasons.

With the exception of possibly the Katrina law, none of these amendment provisions impact me. I'm a selfish carrier, I guess, I could care less if retired LEOs can carry in Class D locations, I should be able to.

I could care less how non-CHL permit holders have to transport their gun. I frankly don't like the idea that non CHL holders could carry their guns in the car 5 seconds away from readiness. These are citizens I may find myself up against someday (Got a felony? Can't get a CHL? Here's the next best thing, Johnny). You wanna carry for self-defense in your car? Submit to a background check and take some training like the rest of us. The federal law which pre-empts state law is sufficient to trasport arms for hunting or range use.

But the most offensive thing, and here is where I sympathize with the FOP, what is the deal with trying to slide these in the day before the vote - of course the FOP can't respond properly, they've only known about the proposed amendments for a day! I read the FOP letter, it didn't say don't pass the amendments, it said let's debate them publicly. Even if their motives are to stall and delay, it's difficult to argue with "19 amendments offered at the last second, let's talk about this some more."

If the Castle Doctrine doesn't pass at all, I will lay the blame squarely at Buckeye Firearms, and whoever else tried to pull this "fast one," introducting amendments at the last second that, while I might (mostly) support them, I do not care enough about to torpedo the whole bill!

This is very poor (and risky) political maneuvering. Shame, shame, shame, Ken Hanson!

A, Esq.

Jeff said...

Anon, hate to bust your bubble but the FOP and the Legislature have know about this for almost a month. Every single admendment proposed are also part of SB 318 which has been debated to death. The FOP claim that they want time to discuss the issues, but when time was offered to them they punted. A tactic that they used to kill every single concealed carry bill before HB12 granting you the privilege to carry a firearm.

As for your not caring how other non-CHL people carry...thanks for throwing other gun owners under the bus. You do realize of course the concealed carry is a privilege subject to the whim of the legislature, open carry is the handgun is the ONLY protected method of carry protected by the State of Ohio Constitution (See Klien vs Leis Supreme Court case)

You aren't a only one (cop) and your CHL is no get out of jail free card. Right now if you were to carry a handgun in plain sight with the action open in your car (as required by State and Federal law) with NO ammunition within reach you can be charged with "Improper Carry of a firearm" Try educating yourself before throwing everyone else under the bus. Remember if you don't support others, when your A@# is in the fire it is unlikely they will support you.

Anonymous said...

My point was not that I don't support the amendments, but it seems that the amendments are mostly all technical fixes (either fixing something that is already taken care of by pre-emptive federal law, or affecting a very small number of people), and attempting to secure their passage by appending them onto the Castle doctine - which is a much more fundamental and important piece of legislation - is in my opinion a bad idea - the risk is not worth the reward.

Regardless of the truth - and let's face it, in politics perception is everything - by introducing these amendments, for whatever reason, after public hearings and right before the vote, has given every excuse to nervous politicians to table the Castle Doctrine.

If it all passes, I will be very, very happy. If it does not, and it's because of these amendments, I will be very... not happy! I do respect your opinion - hopefully you are right and it will be passed soon... Brent's blog is not the place to debate, so I won't post anymore on this topic.

As for transporting a firearm w/o CHL, this paste from LexisNexis seems easy to understand, easy to comply with, and pre-empts Ohio or local law (not saying Ohio shouldn't fix its law, just saying the importance of fixing it doesn't trup the importance of the underlying Castle Doctrine):

18 U.S.C. § 926A

Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter [18 USCS §§ 921 et seq.] from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver's compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.

Jeff said...

Anon,

You just made my point, if you carry a handgun in the manner described in your post, you WILL be charged with improper carry of a firearm!!!! It was a drafting error in HB 12 that created this mess. The legislature never intended to do this, they just goofed.