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Gov. Kasich Vetoes Self-Defense Gun Bill

Ohio Governor John Kasich
Carolyn Kaster
Associated Press

Gov. John Kasich has vetoed a pro-gun bill, HB 228, that would have changed the way self-defense cases play out in court, shifting the burden from the defense to the prosecution.

The legislation is what’s left of the “Stand Your Ground” bill. Lawmakers took out a section of the legislation that would have repealed the "duty to retreat" before using lethal force in self defense. Democratic lawmakers said the "Stand Your Ground" provisions would disproportionately harm people of color.

Kasich objected to the bill’s shift of burden, saying this "has never been the law in Ohio." Ohio is the only state that puts the burden of proof on the defense in such cases.

Other provisions in the bill would restrict local governments from establishing their own firearms policy, something Kasich says violates sovereignty under the "home rule" principle.

Just hours before, Kasich hinted at a veto in a speech at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

“Why would I sign a bill that gives more power to the gun advocates?” he remarked.

Kasich said in his veto statement that the legislature should have added his measure that takes guns away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others, known as the “red flag law.”

"Even the National Rifle Association is on record as supporting the concept of red flag laws," his veto message said. "That the General Assembly has been unwilling to even debate the idea is baffling and unconscionable to me. This idea's omission from this legislation is a shortcoming that I cannot accept."

The bill he rejected did strengthen penalties against illegal "strawman" gun purchases, among recommendations of Kasich's bipartisan gun policy committee, and it allowed off-duty police officers to carry concealed handguns.

Kasich defended his record as pro-Second Amendment, noting that he's signed or allowed to become law nine bills protecting gun rights.

Laura Lewis, of the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, praised the veto.

"The governor saw this for what it is — an extreme attempt to punish Ohio cities and towns for trying to address gun violence," Lewis said in an email. "Most Ohioans want our lawmakers to work together and pass bipartisan gun safety legislation, like a red flag law, and legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. We want Ohio to move forward, not backward."

The Ohio House and Senate are planning to return to the Statehouse after Christmas for what could be potential votes to override Kasich's vetoes.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.