I may hate Ohio for everything else, but at least they got this right!!!
Castle Doctrine is awesome.
COLUMBUS -- A homeowner who injures, maims or even kills an intruder is on the right side of the law, starting today in Ohio.
The so-called "castle doctrine" law assumes the owner was acting in self-defense and shifts the burden to police and prosecutors to prove otherwise.
Until today, people who attacked intruders had to prove they were acting in self-defense.
Highlights of Senate Bill 184, the so-called "castle doctrine" law that takes effect today:
• A homeowner who uses deadly force against an intruder is presumed innocent.
• Homeowners do not have to retreat and can use force greater than what they are confronted with.
• The law applies to vehicles as well as residences.
• Prosecutors could still criminally charge the owner if it's proven that illegal activity was going on in the home or vehicle at the time of the use of force.
• An owner who rightfully use self-defense will be immune to civil lawsuits from intruders or their families.
• A handgun permit holder can pick up and drop off a child in a school safety zone, where firearms are generally prohibited.
• A loaded handgun can be transported in a vehicle's unlocked glove compartment or center console.
• A landlord cannot evict a permit-carrying tenant for keeping a firearm on the rented premises.
About 20 states have similar laws with all types of variations. Some states do not limit the self-defense presumption to the person's home but apply it to the workplace or even on the street, if the person is threatened.
In fact, Ohio's provision extends to inside vehicles. And, as it is elsewhere, Ohio's castle doctrine -- so named for the popular premise that 'one's home is one's castle' -- is steeped in controversy.
Ohio prosecutors and police chiefs associations are against it. They say the law provides legal cover for bad guys to hurt people who had absolutely no intent of harming them.
"The problem is defense lawyers will pick this up and use it to defend their clients who really aren't law abiding citizens in their homes," said John Murphy, of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney's Association.
"It could be someone was dealing drugs in their house and something goes bad and so they shoot them," he said. "This is who this law will apply to."
Murphy said there was no need for the new law because Ohio statutes already have sufficient self-defense provisions built in for legitimate cases.
Gun-rights advocates and some rank-and-file police officers either openly support or have no qualms with the new law. They say it is fair to shoot first and ask questions later.
"If your life is in danger you don't have to prove what the intent was of some intruder who is in your house, which was absolutely insane," said Jim Irvine, of the Buckeye Firearms Association.
"You now can defend yourself up to and including using deadly force," said Irvine, adding that under the old law homeowners had to justify their actions by proving they were in danger.
Not only do homeowners not have to prove intent, they also do not have to retreat before taking defensive action and could use a weapon much more powerful than what they might face from the intruder.
Irvine disputes the notion that the law can provide a safe haven for thugs.
"You're presumed innocent, but prosecutors can rebut that," Irvin said. "So, that covers a case that plays out wrong."
Ohio's law swept through the Republican-controlled legislature earlier this year and was signed by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in June.
The law also contains other provisions intended to clear up confusion about the state's concealed carry firearms law, which do not sit well with police officers.
Ohioans with concealed carry permits can now transport their loaded firearms or unloaded weapons and ammunition together in the unlocked glove compartments or center consoles of vehicles.
Under the old law, the guns had to be unloaded and ammunition kept separate and in a locked trunk or glove compartment. Or maybe in an easily accessible purse but not a center console. That led to confusion.
"Before I could carry a firearm in a briefcase on the front seat, but the center console was illegal. It just didn't make sense," said Irvine, who said the new provisions allow gun owners quicker access to their weapons.
The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association had no problem with the castle doctrine measure but fought the new concealed carry provisions.
"Look at it from my perspective as a one-officer car pulling over a car with four young guns wearing white T-shirts at 3 a.m. on the mean streets of Cleveland," said Stephen Loomis, president of the patrolmen's union. "You just made it easier for these guys to not only carry the gun, but to use it."
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