DeWine signs ‘stand your ground’ gun bill into law

Gov. Mike DeWine signed Monday a gun bill into law that will allow armed Ohioans to use deadly force in self-defense in public places without considering first whether they could retreat from danger.

DeWine said in a written statement he signed the bill to protect citizens’ rights to protect themselves and remove ambiguity from Ohio’s self-defense law.

At the same time, though, DeWine chastised lawmakers for failing to send him legislation in 2020 that would improve background checks and make it more difficult for criminals to illegally have and use guns. He urged the newly seated lawmakers to take action on these provisions.

“In the spirit of cooperation with the General Assembly, I have signed Senate Bill 175. I look forward to working with members of the legislature in the future to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and to protect the rights of citizens who follow the law,” DeWine’s statement says.

Under current law, Ohioans have a “duty to retreat” from danger in public places — if possible — before using deadly force in defense of themselves or others. Senate Bill 175 removes that duty.

DeWine’s action Monday drew cheers from gun groups and criticism from gun safety advocates, including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

“Gov. DeWine came to our city and stood on stage for a vigil for our murdered friends and neighbors, and then told us he stood with our community in our fight against gun violence. Now it seems he does not,” Whaley said on Monday. “Gov. DeWine has made clear he opposes this dangerous policy, but he once again folded to the extreme elements in his own party. ‘Stand your ground’ will make Ohio less safe — full stop.”

“We’re very pleased the governor kept his promise to sign the repeal of Ohio’s duty to retreat law that forces victims of violent crime to retreat before they’re legally able to defend themselves,” said Buckeye Firearms Association Executive Director Dean Rieck in a statement. “Our organization worked relentlessly down the stretch to see this bill become law.”

The bill was opposed by civil rights groups and many county prosecutors and police chiefs, including Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, who has said it would make communities less safe and encourage armed vigilantism.

Supporters of the bill, including the National Rifle Association, say it’ll clarify self-defense law.

“Crimes can happen quickly and without warning. Most victims have a split second to react with the best course of action for their survival. By signing SB 175, Gov. DeWine ensures the law favors victims and not criminals,” said John Weber, Ohio director for the NRA. “We look forward to working with the governor in the future to advance the interests of law-abiding Ohioans.”

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