I have seen a lot of articles about the gun bill screw up in Ohio.

A common source article for other reports is one from the AP.

Ohio lawmakers studying error that could ban some guns

A mistake in writing up an Ohio bill could inadvertently ban several types of already legal guns and must be fixed quickly, gun rights advocates say.

At issue is legislation approved by lawmakers last year that allows off-duty police officers to carry firearms and phases in pre-emption of many local firearms restrictions, among other changes.

The bill also attempted to align Ohio law with federal law regarding short-barrel weapons, or generally speaking shotguns with barrel lengths less than 16 inches.

Such guns are legal under federal law but classified as illegal in Ohio, even though many gun stores sell them. As the bill was being drafted, a misplaced paragraph unintentionally lumped a variety of long guns into a prohibited category.

Those could include semi-automatic AK-47s and any long gun with a pistol grip, which could also affect shotguns used in competitive shooting.

What?  Shotguns with barrels less than 16 inches are NFA items and are generally illegal.  I don’t know if Ohio bans NFA items, like Illinois does, so that you can’t get them at all.

I did a lot of searching to figure out what is going on here, and finally came across this article in the Springfield Sun-News.

Mistake in Ohio bill would make millions of gun owners lawbreakers

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

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.

Finally, a source.  HB 228.

What exactly is the problem?

All the way down in the bill is the section on definitions.

Sec. 2923.11. As used in sections 2923.11 to 2923.24 of the Revised Code:

(K) “Dangerous ordnance” means any of the following, except as provided in division (L) of this section: 

(7) Any firearm with an overall length of at least twenty- six inches that is approved for sale by the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives under the “Gun Control Act of 1968,” 82 Stat. 1213, 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3), but that is found by the bureau not to be regulated under the “National Firearms Act,” 68A Stat. 725 (1934), 26 U.S.C. 5845(a).

Okay, now I get what is going on.

The law bans a firearm with an overall length of 26 inches that is not an NFA item, which is just about every long gun in existence.

There are already bills in the house to strike this paragraph from the law so everybody with a long gun in Ohio doesn’t become a felon for having a long gun.

There are three lessons here.

First, the AP and all the reporters who quote the AP know absolutely Jack about guns and gun laws, which is why that nonsensical confusing paragraph was published.

Second, this is why so few people understand gun laws, because the media reports them for shit.

Third, this is an example of our legislative process turning to shit, that the language of a bill can become so mired in minutia that your average citizen doesn’t understand the law and may very well break it without intent.

Maybe Shakespeare was right.  Kill all the lawyers.

There should be a clause in our Constitution, that any law indented to regulate something should be understandable by a random selection of people to be regulated.

If you want to pass a law that regulates a civil liberty, if that law can’t be understood by 50 randomly selected US citizens, throw it out, because it is too complicated to be readily followed by the other 320 million citizens it applies to.

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By J. Kb

10 thoughts on “The AP doesn’t understand gun laws and I did a lot of searching for the answer”
  1. OH resident here, so a little clarification. The state does not ban NFA items outright, but places some extended restrictions on them above and beyond Fed regs. I’m not in that market, so I’m not 100 percent on the differences. That’s one thing I keep telling myself I need to look into, but…

    That completely bat-shart definition paragraph is news to me, but wholly unsurprising. What do you want to bet a Dem from upstate (Cleveland) snuck that crap in under the radar as a way to make felons out of a sodding lot of normal joes and janes?

  2. Then again, section (L)(2) exempts from the ban any … rifle… designed or suitable for sporting purposes. So who knows what, if anything, (K)(7) actually applies to.

    In one of Heinlein’s novels or short stories, he talked about a “Plain English Amendment”. Yes, it’s about time.

    The other problem is volume. The Federal Government cranks out 200 pages, or more, of Federal Register every day. Some of that is mere garbage, but a lot is regulation “having the force of law”. Since no one reads all that, in fact no one in the country knows what the law is. No one.

  3. Re that last paragraph, it’s also an imlicit veto if 50 people understand it and conclude it’s a bad idea ..
    So they don’t “understand” it.

    Very Heinleinian. I like it.

    1. On the “bad idea” point, that would be jury nullification. And that has been the underlying principle of the jury system for 1000 years.
      For a very good and detailed discussion, read “An essay on the Trial by Jury” by Lysander Spooner, published in 1852 and available for free download at gutenberg.org.

  4. How about we make it a 1st class FELONY, punishable by 5 years in jail and a $100K fine, for any politicians to pass a law infringing on a citizen’s 2nd amendment right?

  5. Shotguns with barrels less than 16 inches are NFA items and are generally illegal.

    Only if they’re designed to be fired from the shoulder. Think (or Google) “Mossberg Shockwave”. Legally, it’s a pistol.

    And yes, that Ohio bill needs to be revised, and now.

    But I don’t know whether I believe it was a “mistake” so much as an anti-gun person doing some “creative editing” to sneak in a ban.

    I mean, really, how does a bill “meant to expand stipulations in which shooting someone in self-defense is legally justified” end up addressing and regulating cosmetic features of weapons, anyway? Why is that even in there?

    1. The Shockwave and Tac14 are not legally shotguns. They are “firearms.” It may sound like a minor detail, but it is a very important minor detail.

  6. This is why there shouldn’t be any of these types of laws. Where the hell in the Constitution, Declaration, or any of the documents that influenced the Federal Convention is it expressed that our rights are to be flagrantly limited by vague definitions like “sporting purposes”? All these laws are based on interpretations of definitions of whoever happens to have the most power at the time.

  7. I have been watching this bill. It was initially part of an attempt to address Ohio’s bass ackwards guilty until proven innocent, duty to retreat, duty to inform, and the strange wording that SOMEONE WHO OPENED THEIR GOSH DARN MOUTH ABOUT HOW THE MOSSBERG SHOCKWAVE MAY BE ILLEGAL IN OHIO SO TO GET MONEY SO THEY COULD FIGHT TO MAKE THEM LEGAL after a significant amount of them were legally sold and transferred in the state (and immediately lost in boating accidents)

    We had to deal with gun rights groups fighting over which of them was wearing the prettiest dress and got to flirt with the politicians behind closed doors and then spreading bad information, finger pointing, deleting threads and topics off their forums which magically go down when they get flak about an issue.

    The screw up in question was due to someone reversing the order of points in a bill so instead of saying that the Shockwave and similar products that are federally legal would now be legal in Ohio it instead made it sound like they were enforcing the previous law but now with broader definitions.

    Whenever anyone tried to point out that this was a mistake that should have been caught or that there were ways to fix it they were berated and mocked about how since they didn’t have pictures taken with politicians and didn’t get to sit in on closed door meetings clearly only the Big Boys could fix this so…..yanknow give us money please. Also any suggestions that any of the bad air around the bill was purposefully done or missed due to the cigar smoke and camera flashes of being in such close proximity to power were soundly mocked and called fake news.

    The entire thing has been a cluster from reports of groups signaling their support of striking out portions of the bill because “the time isn’t right” to the language mess up, to continued bickering and infighting.

    The news coverage has been terrible as has the refusal to speak plainly about issues down to an initial refusal to name the politicians who voted against the bill.

    We’re trying to sort it but Lord help us no one is making it easy.

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