Johnson speaks on bill controversy

By Frank Lewis

November 17, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) says the new bill (HB 203) he is proposing is not a “Stand Your Ground” bill, but instead is a bill based on the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, and to give Ohioans the right to defend themselves and their families.

Johnson said to sell it as a “Stand Your Ground” bill is wrong. He said the bill is extremely complicated with numerous components. But he has an underlying reason for introducing it.

“This bill, like my previous Second Amendment bills, goes directly to the matter of our fundamental American Liberty. I want us all to be as free as we can possibly be - as free as we were intended to be by the U.S. Constitution,” Johnson said. “If you look at basic freedom issues and Second Amendment issues, First Amendment issues, across the country, it seems like we have been giving up an awful lot of our freedom and our liberty - especially in the last decade, maybe since 9/11.”

Johnson said people are worried about the National Security Agency (NSA) spying on their phone conversations.

“Rightfully so. It turns out that the federal government has cast a pretty big net,” Johnson said. “We can see the results of infringements on our liberties when we go to the airports. You just have to trust that people have your best interest at heart, and yet we find out that TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) is going through your luggage and stealing things. There is just an assault on American freedom and liberty, and I keep waiting for the federal government to set these things straight and I’ve got the feeling that it’s going to take a long time for them to do it.”

Johnson said he has determined that the center of gravity for making changes is at the state level.

“I have worked hard since I’ve been in the General Assembly to do what I can to keep us as free as we can be,” Johnson said. “So the things that I have focused on have been in the Second Amendment.”

Johnson sponsored House Bill 45 which allowed Concealed Carry license holders to carry their guns into a restaurant. Prior to that, any restaurant that served wine or any alcoholic beverage was off limits to CCW carriers. Johnson said some in the media labeled it as a “guns in bars” bill, using the least favorable language to portray it. He also sponsored House Bill 495, known as the “Automatic Reciprocity” bill, which allowed mutual respect of CCW’s between states. The reciprocity component was removed in the Senate.

“So the first thing that I have done in this current bill (HB 203), which has many, many points, is go back after the Automatic Reciprocity portion,” Johnson said. “So the first thing that House Bill 203 does is give the Attorney General the ability to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states without going through the complex rigmarole we have currently.”

In an unusual move, Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Bond Hill, was allowed to testify against the bill in a House committee Wednesday, speaking from her role as head of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. Under the bill, Ohioans would be allowed to fire a gun in self-defense without first retreating from an attacker.

The Legislative Black Caucus opposes the bill in part because of the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted of Martin’s death after claiming self-defense.

“While other states are looking at reversing and reforming these stand your ground laws, we’re concerned that this committee is considering implementing them,” Reece told a House committee. “Our constituents and communities are outraged.”

Johnson said that label is incorrect.

“It is really not a ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill at all,” Johnson said. “Stand your Ground’ is a marketing term that inflames the media and gets people upset. This is a very complex bill that builds on my other two bills and helps removes some of the infringements that we’ve seen to the Second Amendment.”

Johnson said currently in Ohio people are required to retreat when confronted with deadly force. He used as an example of an elderly woman sitting in her home alone and being confronted by an intruder. She may be unable to retreat, so this bill would allow her to use deadly force to protect herself. He said Concealed Carry is all about giving law-abiding citizens the ability to exercise a constitutional right.

Johnson said there are approximately 17 points in the bill including some very obvious components.

  • The bill makes it possible for all DD-14 military discharge documents to count as competency training equivalents regardless of whether or not six years has past as is presently required.
  • Removes the requirement that a person must be a resident of Ohio 45 days prior to the day of applying for a CHL (Concealed Handgun License).
  • A CHL holder’s license remains valid when that person moves out of the state until the date of expiration.
  • Allows a person who is not a resident of the state of Ohio, but works here, to apply for, and obtain a CHL.
  • Allows investigators appointed by the Attorney General to investigate Medicaid fraud to carry weapons.
  • Makes it so that getting a CHL in Ohio would require a NICS check, the national criminal background check, tightening up the standards in Ohio.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.