Standing up to stand your ground

Count the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative among the many groups urging Ohioans to stand up against the ”stand your ground” proposal that passed the Ohio House last week.

The group sent out an email Wednesday – the same day, but before lawmakers approved the measure 63 to 27 – urging members to call their legislator to vote no on House Bill 203, the gun legislation that includes the self-defense measure.

But now that the bill cleared one hurdle, MVOC as the group’s is most commonly known, is moving its efforts to work against the measure in the Senate.

Christopher McKee, pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Youngstown’s North Side, said efforts to give ”Columbus a sense” of the faith community’s and other’s feelings about this legislation will continue, ”but the next big step is how do we mobilize and how do we make sure the state Senate hears from us.”

The mobilization includes trips to Columbus to publicly demonstrate their feelings, and that includes committee hearing testimony and demonstrating outside the Statehouse.

The Senate has sessions scheduled for Dec. 4, 5 and 6 and as needed the week of Dec. 8, so it’s conceivable, if lawmakers there wanted to fast-track the bill, it could come up for a vote before Christmas.

But maybe not, says Democratic state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, whose preference is to have adequate committee hearings so opponents and proponents can testify fully on the proposal.

Schiavoni said so far he’s considered the proposal on only a ”broad level” and personally ”I like to hear the testimony and talk with people who come by my office,” but there’s one provision in the expansive bill that he’s having trouble with now: relaxing license requirements for out-of-state concealed carry permit holders.

The provision, Schiavoni said, would grant reciprocity in Ohio for out-of-state permit holders. His issue: other states’ standards may not be as high as standards in Ohio.

Schiavoni said he’s generally supportive of concealed carry and Ohio’s law is ”sensible,” but to ”allow someone to go without training to come into Ohio and be granted reciprocity, that really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

Forming Democratic state Rep. Sean O’Brien’s ”no” vote was Ohio’s existing self-defense laws, which the former prosecutor in Trumbull County said are ”more than adequate” and talks with his old boss, Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, whose personal opinion is similar.

”The current Ohio law, especially with the 2008 edition of the Castle Doctrine, is adequate to provide a proper self defense to the citizens of Ohio,” Watkins said.

State Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, did not vote. He was out of the country. Lawmakers who represent Mahoning County, Democrats Bob Hagan and Ron Gerberry, voted no.