Ohio state lawmakers, despite months of multiple protests, demonstrations, and thousands of signatures on petitions, are poised to enact sweeping changes that expand the state’s self defense laws and eliminate a duty to retreat, a primary factor that creates dangerous stand your ground laws.
By a vote of 62 to 27, the Ohio House of Representatives this week voted in favor of HB 203, and passed it to the state Senate for approval.
The new legislation would expand no duty to retreat to include anywhere a person has a right to be in Ohio, effectively creating a form of stand your ground law in the state.
All American states have some sort of self-defense laws. Currently, as in other states, Ohio residents, under current Castle Doctrine, have no duty to retreat in their homes or vehicles. While HB 203 doesn’t include the words “stand your ground”, it implies it.
Ohio residents have been outspoken in their stance against HB 203. Akron, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Dayton, South Euclid and Toledo had all filed resolutions opposing the bill. On the opening day of the Ohio Legislative Session last month several student, labor, political and clergy groups held rallies, protests, lobbied legislators and delivered petitions and municipal resolutions opposing HB 203.
That day also brought out tension from both sides of the polarized debate, as opponents of the HB 203 were met by handfuls of gun-toting proponents. Some proponents say the bill is unfairly being called a “stand your ground” law when it is what they claim only an enhancement of current state gun laws.
Opponents assert that Ohio doesn’t need stand-your-ground, and believe the proposed law isn’t about self-defense, but is instead about a fear of black people – going beyond the state’s current self-defense laws – and allows for the killing of unarmed people.
Opponents also claim it promotes violence, and has no place in their state. State Representative Alicia Reece (D-Columbus) recently said, “Stand Your Ground would do nothing but turn our state into the Wild, Wild West.”
It currently requires 12 hours of firearm training to get a concealed-carry permit in Ohio; under HB 203 that would be cut to 4 hours. Proponents argue it would make it financially easier to get a permit. Opponents argue it would be inadequate training.
The new gun law would also make Ohio automatically recognize concealed weapon permits issued by any state that recognizes Ohio’s permits; and bring the state into compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, so anyone with a state gun licenses can automatically buy a gun without a background check.
The two-hour House session this week was briefly interrupted by a courageous group of protesters who shouted, sang, hung a banner over a balcony, and chanted “O-H-I-O, stand your ground has got to go” as they were escorted out (video courtesy of Mark Kovac, CapitalOhioBlog).