Cleveland Joins List Of Ohio Cities Against Stand Your Ground

Updated July 18, 2016

On October 7, 2013 the city of Cleveland joined a list of major Ohio municipalities to adopt resolutions opposing changes to the state’s current self-defense law. A proposed bill, HB 203, would be Ohio’s version of a stand your ground law.

Cleveland’s resolution was adopted a few days after a “die-in” and protests in Columbus by hundreds of gun control advocates protesting against the bill.

Cleveland cityscape (Wikipedia Commons photo by John Baden)

Under Ohio’s current Castle Doctrine, residents have no duty to retreat when they are in their homes, cars, or the vehicles of immediate family members. HB 230 would change the state’s self-defense laws by expanding the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat before using deadly force, and also make it easier to get concealed-carry permits.

Ohio residents have been outspoken in their stance against HB 230. Akron, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Dayton, South Euclid and Toledo had all previously filed resolutions in opposition to the bill.

On the opening day of the legislative session last week, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Ohio Unity Coalition, National Action Network, Congressional Black Caucus, Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, NAACP, SCLC, Ohio Student Association, and clergy held rallies and protests, lobbied state legislators and delivered petitions with municipal resolutions opposing HB 203 from Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Youngstown and Toledo to Governor Kasich, Senate President Faber and House Speaker Bill Batchelder.

Opponents assert that Ohio doesn’t need a stand your ground law, and believe the proposed law isn’t about self-defense, but is instead about the fear of blacks, going beyond the state’s current self-defense laws, and allows for the killing of unarmed people, promotes violence, and has no place in their state.

At a press conference last week, State Representative Alicia Reece 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.”

Only Councilman Zack Reed voted against the Cleveland resolution. Reed, who speaks out regularly against gun violence, wore a blue hoodie during a council meeting in March 2012 in memory of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman a month earlier.

Reed said that although he still believes Zimmerman was wrong, he can’t support a resolution that he believes may leave good people without a means of self-defense.

“This is a measure that would take guns out of the hands of good people,” Reed said. “So the bad guys would have the guns, and the good people can just sit there and pray.”

Councilman Jeffrey Johnson, a co-sponsor of Cleveland’s resolution, said that he believes the state’s current law is good enough.

“In the long run, ‘stand your ground,’ encourages more violence,” Johnson said. “It allows someone to be aggressive and to initiate a conflict, without being brought on charges.”

Rep. Matt Lynch (R-Chagrin Falls), a co-sponsor of HB 203, said in an August 2013 editorial that opponents of the bill are trying to take advantage of recent events to “advance an anti-gun agenda.”

Source: Plain Dealer

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