COLUMBUS, Ohio—Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday vetoed legislation that would make Ohio the last state in the nation to shift the burden of proof in self-defense cases from the defendant to prosecutors.
The term-limited Republican governor’s decision to veto House Bill 228 is likely to be the first in a series of battles with the GOP-dominated legislature over legislation passed during his final days in office.
Under the bill, it would be up to prosecutors in use-of-force cases to prove that a defendant did not act in self-defense. Ohio is the only state that puts the burden of proof on defendants to show they used force in self-defense.
HB 228 would also loosen a number of Ohio gun-control rules – including allowing individuals to challenge local gun-control ordinances in court.
Kasich indicated earlier on Wednesday that he intended to veto the legislation
“Why would I sign a bill that gives more power to the gun advocates?” the governor said during a Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon.
“For the first time in my lifetime, the possibility of somebody coming through that door and shooting us exists,” he continued. “And we can’t do anything because of rotten, stinking politics.”
Kasich called himself “a Second Amendment person,” but added, “I also agree that there are some important restrictions that we need to put on the Second Amendment.”
The legislation does include one part of a package of gun reforms Kasich has called for: prohibiting “straw man” purchases in which someone buys a gun for someone else. Such purchases are already illegal under federal law; this bill would make it a third-degree felony on the state level.
It now remains to be seen whether proponents of the bill can get enough votes in the Ohio House and Senate to override Kasich’s veto. While the bill needed only a majority to pass, a veto override requires the support of 60 percent of lawmakers in each chamber.
HB 228 passed both the House and Senate one vote short of the 60-percent threshold, though some Republicans who were absent at the time could provide the deciding vote. Even if that happens, the override still wouldn’t happen if even a single supportive lawmaker didn’t show up to the rare post-Christmas session days, which were only recently added.
Before passing HB 228, lawmakers tried to make the bill more palatable by removing a controversial and much-publicized “stand your ground” provision that would eliminate a person’s “duty to retreat” before using force in self-defense. Right now, state law only allows no duty to retreat when defendants are in their home or vehicle.
Last week, lawmakers passed a number of other bills that Kasich is also expected to veto, including a pay raise for lawmakers and other elected officials and a “heartbeat bill” that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected (which can be as soon as 6 weeks into a pregnancy).
The Ohio General Assembly also sent Kasich a second abortion bill that would ban the procedure used for almost all second-trimester abortions. The governor hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign that legislation.
This content was originally published here.