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Ohio GOP lawmakers: Yes on 'stand your ground,' no on John Kasich's gun control ideas

The bill would eliminate a legal requirement to try to retreat before shooting in a public place.

COLUMBUS – Despite pleas from Republican Gov. John Kasich and recent, high-profile shootings, Ohio’s GOP lawmakers would rather pass a “stand your ground” proposal than the governor’s ideas on gun control.

Legislators plan to vote next week on a proposal that allows gun owners to "stand their ground" when threatened in public, newly minted Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Gallia County, said Tuesday.

The bill would eliminate a legal requirement to try to retreat before shooting in a public place. Prosecutors say the bill would make it harder to charge a gun owner for shooting someone. Under the proposed changes, the prosecutor would have to prove the shooter was not acting in self-defense. Currently, accused shooters must prove they were defending themselves.

Current law allows people to fire at an intruder in their home or vehicle, often called “castle doctrine.”

Kasich has already said he would veto a "stand your ground" bill. But Smith said he likely would have the 60 votes in the Ohio House needed to override Kasich’s veto pen.

“There’s a lot of support for that bill,” Smith told reporters Tuesday.

What doesn’t have support? Kasich’s package of proposals to curb gun violence. Most controversially, he wants to allow police to take a person’s weapons if a court decides he or she poses a threat.

That last idea, known as a "red-flag law," has caused “consternation” among Republicans, Smith said.

Smith said he worries about taking away guns from people unnecessarily. For example, a husband or wife could ask a court to take away a spouse's firearms during a dispute.

Has Smith discussed Kasich's gun proposals with the governor? "Not particularly on that. We have not talked about individual legislation," Smith said.

Students from across Ohio recently rallied at the Statehouse during the "March for Our Lives," calling on lawmakers to support gun control after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. One father whose daughter died in the shooting met with Kasich and applauded his efforts to remove guns from those who might be dangerous.

“It’s not to say we’re insensitive to it or don’t want to do something on it,” Smith said. “It’s just people are very protective of the Second Amendment.”

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