The Cost of the "Narrative"

There are currently two firearm related bills working their way though the Ohio legislature during the current lame-duck session: House Bill 228 and House Bill 142.

The news media has been all over House Bill 228, which modifies many of the state’s laws pertaining to the use of deadly force in self-defense. It has been dubbed by several groups as the “Kill at Will Bill” due to the fact that it removes the burden of proof from individuals who use lethal force in self-defense to prove their innocence and shifts it to the prosecution who must prove it was not self-defense.

According to expert testimony, Ohio is the only state in the country which currently uses the preponderance of evidence standard to convict a person of murder who has asserted lethal force was used in self-defense. The proposed shift, whereby a prosecutor would be required to show beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense to obtain a murder conviction, is but one of the sources of controversy for this bill.

However, even though this issue generates far more attention in the media and prompted groups such as Moms Demand Action to send representatives to the committee hearings for the bill, the data shows it was not the most important gun-related issue under discussion.

Ohio law currently requires individuals carrying concealed weapons to inform police officers immediately upon contact if they are carrying a firearm. According to representatives of concealed carry permit holders in Ohio, this issue ranks as the most important concern every year.

Data gathered from our mobile app users greatly supports this claim, which is particularly noteworthy considering only a faction of our users own guns yet it is still the highest priority legal issue we track overall.

House Bill 142 would modify this provision and greatly simplify compliance.

On the ground, this is a far bigger issue than the self-defense bill, yet few who would be directly affected by HB142 even know it is under debate because so many loud voices are focused on HB228.

Scores of otherwise law abiding individuals are jailed for failure to properly comply with the notification requirement, but receive little attention. HB142 resonates with a much greater proportion of the population, but is effectively ignored in the public discourse.

The most important changes in laws often slip by under the radar. There are no press releases or national conversations. These laws profoundly impact people’s everyday lives, yet they often have little knowledge of how they have changed.

This is unacceptable in a land where ignorance of the law is no excuse and does our society a great disservice. It is a problem which must be rectified.

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