Lawmakers want ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun law in Ohio

Two dozen state lawmakers are supporting a “Stand Your Ground” law in Ohio that would remove the duty to retreat before someone is allowed to use deadly force in self-defense in public places.

Introduced Wednesday, the bill would modify the state’s laws on when someone can use deadly force when they believe they are at risk.

Among the 24 co-sponsors of House Bill 381 are a dozen Republican lawmakers from Southwest Ohio including Candice Keller, Nino Vitale, George Lang, Bill Dean, Phil Plummer, Niraj Antani, Paul Zeltwanger, Scott Lipps, Todd Smith, Susan Manchester and Jena Powell.

Related: Can DeWine get his gun proposals approved by lawmakers?

The Stand Your Ground provisions would allow the use of reasonable force, including deadly force, if a reasonable person would judge that force necessary to prevent injury or loss of life. Under the bill, someone may use deadly force in self-defense or defense of another — even if it later shows they wrongly estimated the level of danger of a situation.

Jim Irvine of Buckeye Firearms Association said his group has yet to review the bill and take a position but generally has supported legislation to remove the ‘duty to retreat’ before using deadly force in self-defense.

“We support that concept for sure because I don’t think a crime victim at the moment of life or death, who has already satisfied all the elements of self-defense, should have additional duties placed upon them by the state,” he said. Mandating a duty to retreat is a legal hoop that people have to mentally jump through when they are in peril and leaves them open to legal second-guessing, Irvine said.

“The victims shouldn’t have duties. The victims should have rights – a right to defend our lives,” Irvine said.

Gov. Mike DeWine “wants to look at the specifics of this bill before he comes out in favor or opposed,” said DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney. The governor’s staff is reviewing the bill, he said.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, an outspoken proponent of gun control measures, said “When the people of Dayton said ‘do something,’ they surely didn’t mean this. A stepped-up Stand Your Ground law will only create more unnecessary death. A decade worth of data show these laws are dangerous, ineffective, and disproportionately impact people of color. We’ve already seen too much bloodshed in Dayton.”

Toby Hoover, founder of Ohioans Against Gun Violence, said a Stand Your Ground law isn’t needed because people already have a right to self-defense.

In 2008, Ohio passed a ‘Castle Doctrine’ law that expands the right to use deadly force in self-defense in a home or occupied vehicle. That law presumes that someone acted in self-defense when they used deadly force against someone who unlawfully entered their residence or an occupied vehicle.

In 2018, Ohio changed state law to shift the burden of proof in self-defense cases to the prosecution, rather than the defense. This put Ohio in line with 49 other states. It requires prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who used deadly force did not do so in self-defense, defense of another or defense of the person’s residence.

Related: Could Ohio's new self-defense law impact case of homeowner killing teens in garage?

Meanwhile, DeWine is pushing bills to tighten gun purchase background checks and expand the use of ‘pink slips’ to force hospitalization of those who may be a danger to themselves or others.

Related: DeWine outlines plan to tackle gun violence

There are more than two dozen gun bills pending in the Ohio Legislature to either restrict or expand gun rights.

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