COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Ohio House has approved a measure making broad changes to the state's gun laws, including the addition of a "stand your ground" self-defense rule that has sparked debates on gun control across the country.
The measure passed 62-27 on Wednesday amid protests from anti-gun groups, black legislators, churches and student organizations.
The bill eliminates the duty to retreat in any place in which the person is lawfully allowed to be and makes concealed-carry licenses in Ohio and certain other states valid across state lines.
"Regardless of whether or not this bill passes, if you use lethal force outside your home you will have to prove in a court of law that you acted in self-defense," said Rep. Terry Johnson, the McDermott Republican who sponsored the bill.
Johnson said the bill brings reasonable safety protections to Ohioans. Democrats predicted it would foster death and violence.
"You can hang on the 2nd Amendment if you want to, but there's nothing in that provision that needs to be there that's going to protect anyone that doesn't already exist in the law. You pass this and somebody is going to die," said Rep. Fred Strahorn, a Democrat from Dayton.
The debate follows George Zimmerman's acquittal in the 2012 Florida shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. Johnson argues that comparing that situation to Ohio's proposal is inaccurate.
"The defendant must show that he or she was not at fault in creating, prolonging, or escalating the violent situation. If you're chasing somebody down that doesn't sound like that would qualify," he said.
A group of protesters was removed from the House gallery after they displayed a large sign and began singing and chanting.
At least 22 states have similar self-defense laws, but Ohio is the only one where the person defending themselves must justify it.
The bill also prohibits a person with a fifth-degree felony drug offense from getting a concealed carry license for at least 10 years. Anyone with multiple fifth-degree drug offenses is permanently prohibited from obtaining a license.
The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate.