COLUMBUS – Even after Ohio lawmakers removed “stand your ground” language from a gun bill passed Thursday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich finds the final proposal difficult to support.
House Bill 228, which initially would have eliminated the duty to retreat before using deadly force in a public space, now centers on changing who must prove a person who fatally shoots another acted in self-defense.
Under current law, that’s the shooter. Under the proposed changes, that’s the county prosecutor.
Kasich, a Republican who has signed multiple bills to expand access to guns, told The Enquirer he disagrees with that approach.
“If I have a gun and I shoot somebody, I should have to describe why I did that,” Kasich said in an interview.
He also expressed frustration that Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature would not pass a “red flag” law to allow relatives or police to ask a court to remove temporarily any guns from a person they fear might be a threat to themselves or others.
“There’s no ‘red flag’ law,” Kasich said. “I pleaded with them to put the ‘red flag’ law in there. They didn’t do it.”
Sen. Cecil Thomas, D-North Avondale, tried to add red flag language to the bill in committee and on the Senate floor that would have allowed police alone to remove guns from someone deemed a threat.
“We are seeing state after state consistently recognize that it makes practical common sense,” Thomas said. “It makes it just a little bit more difficult for someone to take up an arm and fire and kill not only himself or a family member or just citizens just because he has a sickness.”
But Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, disagreed with the change, saying relatives could misinform police and take away a person’s gun rights without proper proof.
The proposal was rejected. But three Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the red flag language: Sen. John Eklund, of Geauga County; Sen. Stephanie Kunze, of Hilliard; and Sen. Peggy Lehner, of Kettering.
Ohio lawmakers then sent the bill to Kasich's desk Friday. Kasich wouldn’t say exactly what he plans to do, but it appears unlikely he’ll sign the bill. Kasich has 10 days, except for Sundays, to sign the bill, veto it or let it go into law without his signature.
It's not clear whether lawmakers would have the votes to override a veto.
The red flag law was one of several suggestions Kasich’s bipartisan group made about guns in Ohio. One idea – punishing people who buy guns for others who are banned from having them – was added into the bill. But Kasich’s other ideas were rejected so far.
“When none of that gets put in there really or very little of it, it’s very hard for me to support anything like this,” Kasich said.