The opening day of the Ohio Legislative Session on Wednesday, October 2 in Columbus brought out tension from both sides of the polarized debate on HB203, the proposed amendment to Ohio’s self-defense laws – a “stand-your-ground” law – as rallies by hundreds of anti-stand-your-ground and anti-gun protesters were met by handfuls of gun-toting proponents, some carrying NRA signs. Opponents are attacking the bill before it can become law.
HB203 would change Ohio’s self-defense laws by expanding the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat from a threatening situation before using force in self-defense, and make it easier to get concealed-carry permits.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, one group staged a “die-in” (pretending to be dead victims by lying on the ground) as about 200 protesters against stand-your-ground from Trinity Episcopal Church law were handled roughly, with strict orders to stay off the grounds, yet the pro-gun activists were allowed a “short distance” onto the Statehouse grounds.
At a press conference to address the dangers of Stand Your Ground, State Representative and President of Ohio’s Legislative Black Caucus Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) said, “Here in Ohio, we already have strong self-defense laws on the books, and Stand Your Ground would do nothing but turn our state into the Wild, Wild West.”
She was joined by advocates and community leaders from around the state, including the Ohio Unity Coalition, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, National Action Network, Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, SCLC and clergy.
The group later hosted a faith rally, lobbied state legislators, and delivered petitions and municipal resolutions opposing HB 203 from Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo – representing nearly 75% percent of Ohio’s population – to Governor Kasich, Senate President Faber and House Speaker Batchelder.
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