Despite Protests Ohio Set To Be Next Stand Your Ground State

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.”

Ohio opponents of stand your ground law (photo credit: OHHouseDems/twitter)
Ohio opponents of stand your ground law

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).

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Panel At U.S. Senate Hearing Appears Against Stand Your Ground Laws

Last week, for the first time, the federal government held a hearing on stand your ground laws in America, with testimony that was riveting and sometimes emotional, as most of those on a nine-member panel testified against the laws.

US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013
US Senate stand your ground hearing on October 29, 2013

The two hour hearing, entitled “Stand Your Ground Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force”, by the Senate Judiciary Committee‘s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, was significant in itself, since each state in the union has it’s own laws on self defense, “shoot-first” and deadly force.

In every state that has a “stand your ground”-type provision, the law is similar, and universally includes a “no duty to retreat” imposed by these new laws, but vary in use of deadly force.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) at stand your ground hearing October 29, 2013
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)

Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) appeared to favor some type of federal legislation, although federal authority cannot dictate state laws on self-defense.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) emphasized this, even implicating there may be a “political agenda” behind the hearing. His cohort, Texas State Representative Louis Gourmet (R) echoed the sentiment that legislation on the laws must be left with the states.

But Durbin acknowledged the NRA-ALEC connection to stand your ground laws, and cited past or recent studies and reports which he said show that stand your ground law allowed “shooters to walk free in shocking situations. Durbin said the laws “emboldened those who carry guns to initiate confrontations which have ended up killing unarmed children, increase racial disparity,” and said, “it’s clear these laws often go too far in encouraging confrontations that escalate into deadly violence.”

Senator Ted Cruz at stand your ground hearing October 29, 2013
Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz, of course, defended stand your ground, expounding the benefits of the second amendment. He claims that doing away with the laws would take away the right to defend yourself on a public street.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) used the Trayvon Martin shooting as an example of racial profiling and said George Zimmerman was exonerated due to the laws, calling the laws unjust and biased.

Illinois State Representative Luis Guitterez (D) blamed the gun lobby on spreading an agenda of shoot first. and said he was shocked by the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the fact that no one was immediately arrested, and that there was no conviction.

Sybrina Fulton testifies at Senate stand your ground hearing
Sybrina Fulton, seated next to Prof. Ron Sullivan (r), testifies at Senate stand your ground hearing

Sybrina Fulton spoke about her son Trayvon, and said it is important that stand your ground is amended, saying “this law does not work” and that law enforcement and legal authorities should be contacted to do something about the laws.

Professor Ron Sullivan, Jr., Director of Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute explained a correlation between stand your ground and violence, and spoke out against racial profiling and policing by citizens.

David Labahn, President of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, replaced William Meggs on the panel, and offered recommendations for reforms He said stand your ground provides “safe harbor” for criminals, and ties up the legal system with cases.

Ilya Shapiro, of CATO Institute, another proponent of the laws, defended stand your ground, while an opponent of the laws, John Lott, attempted to explain effects of racial disparities and gun laws on the outcome of incidents and statistics.

Lucia Mcbath testifies at US Senate hearing on stand your ground
Lucia Mcbath testifies at US Senate hearing on stand your ground

Yet it was Lucia Mcbath who gave the most riveting, emotional testimony, recounting the November incident last year which took the life of her son Jordan Davis. Mcbath, now the national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action, said she faces “the very real possibility that her son’s killer will walk free.”

Mcbath spoke of how the laws empower people like Michael Dunn – the man accused of gunning down her son – who she said had “no ground to stand”,  and said the law “declares open season on anyone we don’t trust for reasons we don’t even understand…in essence it allows any armed citizen to self-deputize themselves and establish their own definition of law and order…even the wild west had more stringent laws than what we have now.”

She appeared to break down, her voice cracking, as she spoke of how she never got to take Davis’ prom picture or see him graduate from high school and her memories of him. Lawmakers did not call on neither of the mothers for questioning.

WATCH THE WEBCAST HERE: http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?comm=judiciary&type=live&filename=judiciary102913

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Cleveland Joins List Of Ohio Cities Against Stand Your Ground

Updated September 11, 2018: Canton has joined the list of Ohio cities against stand your ground laws on September 10, 2018, when the City Council passed a resolution against HB 228 (a bill to eliminate the “duty to retreat”)

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: Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer

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Ohio Rally: Opponents Die-In, Proponents Come Out [VIDEO]

Ohio Student Association members stage "die-in" against stand-your-ground at Ohio Statehouse October 2, 2013 (Photo by Joel Solow/OSU)
Ohio Student Association members stage “die-in” against stand-your-ground at Ohio Statehouse October 2, 2013 (Photo by Joel Solow/OSU)

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.”

Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece                               Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati)

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.

Keep Calm And End Stand Your Ground Laws

A SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR OUR FRIENDS IN OHIO AND ALL ACROSS AMERICA:

keep-calm-and-end-syg-laws

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Ohio Stand Your Ground Opponents Using ‘Bush Doctrine’ Ideology Today

Organizers of a rally against stand-your-ground in Ohio are using a “Bush Doctrine” ideology and will express their opposition to the state’s proposed stand-your-ground law, called HB 203, by bringing hundreds of supporters and thousands of signatures to the Ohio statehouse for the opening session of the legislature today.

The notion of a “Bush Doctrine” – a pre-emptive attack as a sort of “preventive war” – when you feel the threat of an attack was used by former President George W. Bush to justify the invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack. In effect, a proactive, pre-emptive protest against stand-your-ground uses the same ideology, in attacking HB 203 before it can become law.

The rally, scheduled to start with a 10:15AM press conference, is being staged by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, a group of 14 civic, community, clergy, student, and union organizations, which will also deliver their signed petitions to the Governor, Speaker of the House, and other key lawmakers.
stop stand your ground in ohio
The collaborative says Ohio doesn’t need stand-your-ground, and believes the proposed law isn’t about self-defense, but is instead about the fear of blacks. The group states that HB203 goes far beyond the state’s already reasonable self-defense laws, allows for the shooting of unarmed people, promotes violence, and has no place in their state.

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.

Ohio residents have been very vocal in their stance against stand-your-ground, with the city of Akron this week joining Cincinnati, Youngstown, Dayton, South Euclid and Toledo in voting to oppose the state’s proposed version of a stand-your-ground law.
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Man Shoots, Kills Pup: Is It Canine Stand-Your-Ground?

Another reason Ohio doesn’t need a new stand-your-ground law: our canine friends are also in danger from self-defense laws that give humans the right to shoot and claim they “felt threatened”.

In the small town of Pemberville, Ohio, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran, Christopher Zimmerman (last name sound familiar?), shot and killed an adorable 8-month-old mixed labrador-collie named “Puppy”, happily running to meet its owners – children, who witnessed their beloved pet being gunned down in a driveway that separates their home from the shooter’s. Both homes sit directly across the street from an elementary school.

Zimmerman claimed he felt threatened and reportedly had previously filed a police report stating the pup had “raised its hackles” at him “like it was going to attack”.  At that time Zimmerman stated he would “shoot the damn thing” if it came near him again.

The Sentiniel-Tribune reports that this time, Zimmerman reportedly yelled “Get the hell away,” to one of the children trying to catch Puppy, before opening fire from 5 feet away. The police report states that, based on the placement of the bullet wound, “the dog could not have been running towards (Zimmerman) as he had stated”. He was charged with pointing and discharging firearms, injuring animals, and inducing panic.

The children’s’ mom, Misty Smith wrote on her blog, “How do you comfort a sobbing child who can’t understand why anyone would rob her of the puppy she has begged and prayed for, for years?” She later writes that Zimmerman is a veteran, “whose wife has to tell him over and over, ‘the war is over’. He needs help before someone is hurt worse. There has to be something that can be done”.

If Ohio has gun kooks like this on the loose, then enhancing self-defense laws in the state will only make things worse. Can you imagine a Zimmerman case in Ohio?