LISBON - State Rep. Nick Barborak was among six Democrats who voted in favor of a House bill that eliminates the law requiring a person to first retreat before using deadly force to protect themselves in public.
Barborak, D-Lisbon, had no reservations about voting for the bill and its controversial provision. "I think people have a right to defend themselves and not have to run away," he said.
The bill made changes to Ohio's concealed handgun permit system, but the so-called stand your ground provision is the one that has drawn the most attention. Under current law, citizens under threat are not required to retreat if they are in their home, on their property or in their vehicle, before using deadly force to protect themselves or their family. This is allowed under the so-called "castle doctrine" passed by the state legislature several years ago.
But in public places, citizens are required to retreat if possible when facing imminent threat before they can use deadly force to defend themselves. The stand your ground provision would eliminate that section of the law.
Barborak sees this provision as a logical extension of the castle doctrine. "Right now you are allowed to defend yourself (in public), but there is an added step - a duty to retreat first, if that's possible. What this (law) says is you don't have to retreat first if you are attacked or threatened," he said.
The bill is opposed by black legislators, youth groups and church organizations who fear this will result in George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin-type shootings. Barborak believes those fears are overblown, just as they were when some legislators predicted an increase in shooting deaths after Ohio's concealed handgun law was passed about 10 years ago.
"That has not been the case with the concealed carry law and we have not seen that in other states that have stand your ground laws," he said.
According to the Associated Press, 22 other states have similar laws, nine of which include language saying a person can "stand your ground," including Florida, where Trayvon Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman. Ohio's proposed law lacks such specific language, however.
Barborak said Ohioans need to learn the law. "This does not give someone the license to kill. It says if you are in danger you can defend yourself, and if you have to use deadly force, you have the right to do so," he said.
Barborak expects the bill to pass in the Ohio Senate and be signed into law by Gov. John Kasich.
Another provision in the bill would allow Ohio to automatically recognize concealed handgun permits issued by another state that recognizes Ohio's permits. Barborak said this is another reason he voted for the bill, based on comments received from county residents with permits who want to be able to carry their handguns when traveling in other states.
"People who are inclined to commit a crime don't care about the law," he said. "This allows Ohioans to exercise their rights in other states."