Be very careful before you draw your handgun—taking time to first be sure that you have met all of the legal requirements can save you from having to defend yourself in court later.  If you are unsure, don’t draw.

Imagine this scenario happening to you. 

It’s a beautiful July afternoon and you are outside working in the front yard.  Your least favorite neighbor that you never seem to get along with begins shouting something at you from their window.  All you can hear clearly is the final threat that he is coming outside to “settle this like men”.   Seconds later, he charges out of a side door, tosses his glasses onto the ground and begins marching 30 feet across your front yard to confront you.  He is waving his arms and shouting that he is going to “kick your a**”.

You are carrying, so what do you do?  If you think pulling your handgun is the answer, think again.  If you draw, you might be appearing in court to defend yourself, not criminally, but civilly because your neighbor has just filed for a civil stalking protection order against you including loss of firearms rights.

I came to the defense of a similar case, when a client of mine pulled his handgun to stop a confrontation.  One of the critical issues to the court was the application of Ohio’s duty to retreat rules.  If you are standing in your yard when a neighbor trespasses across your yard toward you shouting threats of bodily harm, do you still have a duty to retreat before you draw your handgun?

The answer is YES.  If you can reasonably make it safely to your garage/front door or simply walk around the other side of your house to avoid the confrontation you currently have a legal duty to do so before you draw your handgun.  It will not matter that law enforcement decides not to prosecute any criminal charges against you.  You still may be forced to appear in court to defend yourself against the civil charges filed by the angry trespassing neighbor.  This is but another example of where the decision to carry concealed means that you have to be prepared to defend yourself both civilly and criminally.  In either case, your handgun is a tool of last resort.

Entering a school safety zone while carrying concealed is very tricky business.  Amended House Bill 454 attempts to make the process a bit more clear by proposing several changes to these complex rules.  The proposed law is in response to a recent lockdown that occurred at a New Albany school.  The proposed law would expand the number of reasons that a person may enter the school zone.  Current law states that you may carry concealed into a school zone if you are dropping off a child.  AM. HB 454 would increase the reasons to cover “picking up or dropping off any person document or item”.  In addition, the proposed Bill would allow the individual to leave the vehicle while in the school zone so long as the handgun remains inside the locked vehicle.  This Bill passed the House Education Committee on 5/28/2014.

Proposed changes to Ohio’s rules on carrying concealed into a school zone would finally add a bit of clarity to otherwise complex rules.

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