Mistake in Ohio bill would make millions of gun owners lawbreakers

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 @ 9:25 PM

Mistake leads to glitch in gun ownership

A bill passed in the Statehouse would inadvertently make a million Ohio gun owners lawbreakers.

Right now, there’s an effort underway to fix the error before the law takes effect next month.

News Center 7’s Kayla Courvell spoke with gun rights advocates and a local state representative about the issue.

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House Bill 228 was meant to expand stipulations in which shooting someone in self-defense is legally justified. But as it currently stands, when it becomes law on March 28 it also makes owning certain rifles, guns with pistol grips or a weapon longer than 26 inches a felony.

RELATED: Ohio lawmakers studying error that could ban some guns 

“It’s legally murky right now,” said state Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp. “It could prohibit the sale of some firearms, which we do not want to do. That was a mistake. Our hope right now is to fix that mistake by the effective date so that it never affects anyone.”

Second Amendment advocates, including Eva Silvers, said the law is unconstitutional.

“Hold up, this is wrong,” she said.

“You took a constitutional oath to protect the people of this country. Will you enforce an unconstitutional law against your own people?”

Antani said it would be up to each jurisdiction as to how they enforce the new law. And he said he doesn’t believe county prosecutors would enforce that portion of it.

But that’s not the point, said July Sparks of the Black Swamp Oathkeepters group.

RELATED: Lawmakers consider major changes to gun laws in Ohio

“We’ll already be prosecuted by being picked up. We’ll already be considered guilty. We just became felons. It’s not if the law passes – it passed,” Sparks said.

A rally is planned for March 28 at the Statehouse.

While some want the law thrown out altogether, Antani said that’s not necessary to make a fix to the law.

“Our goal is to pass this before the March 28 deadline,” he said.

RELATED: Read more on proposed changes to Ohio’s gun laws

The amendment to the new bill would need to be introduced by March 20. 

Antani said a plan to fix the mistake already was introduced Tuesday, and a hearing should be held soon.