Ohio Gun Owners, a citizens’ Second Amendment advocacy organization, discovered Thursday that House Bill 228 (HB 228) would make many widely-used firearms illegal throughout Ohio. The bill’s current language defines illegal “dangerous ordnance” as:
(7) Any firearm with an overall length of at least twenty- six inches that is approved for sale by the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives under the “Gun Control Act of 1968,” 82 Stat. 1213, 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3), but that is found by the bureau not to be regulated under the “National Firearms Act,” 68A Stat. 725 (1934), 26 U.S.C. 5845(a).
This section of the bill, however, should have been included in a section that defines what weapons do not count as “dangerous ordnance.” This makes it highly probable that those who drafted the legislation simply placed this passage in the wrong section. If unchanged, the bill would mistakenly ban hundreds of common weapons, including AR-15’s and shotguns with pistol grips because of what appears to be a clerical error. It would also make felons out of hundreds of thousands of legal gun owners in Ohio.
The bill’s primary sponsors are Terry Johnson (R-90) Sarah LaTourette (R-76). Neither legislator has issued a statement on the bill.
As previously reported, the bill, introduced in May of 2017, was intended to enact a strong “stand your ground” law in Ohio. After significant pushback, the bill was rewritten to “shift the burden of proof in self-defense cases to the prosecution” as well other protections. Former Gov. John Kasich vetoed the bill shortly before leaving office. When asked about his opposition, he stated, “Why would I sign a bill that gives more power to the gun advocates?”
Subsequently, the Ohio State House and Senate overturned his veto on December 27th.
In response, Ohio Gun Owners launched a public campaign encouraging legislators to pass an emergency measure that would amend the law. As it stands, the law will go into effect in March. While it is extremely unlikely that the law would be enforced, the law would still make felons out of hundreds of thousands of gun owners and have a high potential for abuse. The greater point will be how agile and effective can the Ohio legislature be in correcting a clear mistake? Should they do so before March, the issue will be resolved. However, should the bill go into effect as-is, it would be a severe black-eye for the entire Ohio government.
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