By: José Niño
Ohio owners will be waiting anxiously today to see if Gov. Mike DeWine signs or vetos a bill expanding the state’s “Stand Your Ground” safeguards.
The Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 175 in both chambers on December 18.
Senate Bill 175 is a bill with amended "Stand Your Ground" provisions to allow law-abiding Ohioans to use lethal force against aggressors who pose imminent threats to lawful individuals. SB 175 would also expand the area where lethal force can be used to “a place in which they lawfully have the right to be" or anywhere in public for that matter.
Seems like a reasonable law, however, DeWine is not a reasonable governor. Since the tragic Dayton, Ohio massacre of 2019, DeWine has been desperate to pass some form of gun control. His recent effort includes pushing for a series of gun grabs branded as “STRONG Ohio.” In this gun control package are measures that would establish watered-down universal gun registration and red flag order schemes. If DeWine were honest, he would re-brand his initiative as “WEAK Ohio,” given how these schemes would make it harder for lawful Buckeyes to defend themselves.
The Ohio governor still doesn’t care and is even entertaining the idea of vetoing the newly proposed Stand Your Ground enhancements. If DeWine does not act on the bill, it will become law. Should the governor veto the bill, the Ohio legislature will need a three-fifths vote of the House and Senate to override the governor’s veto and turn the bill into law. DeWine is placing a priority on his gun control proposals and will probably veto Stand Your Ground if is gun control items are not voted on.
DeWine isn’t the only one opposing this proposal. Matt Westerhold, editor of the Sandusky Register, wrote a piece with a sensationalist headline “Lawmakers Don’t Defend Racist Law.” Westerhoold engaged in a blatant act of spreading falsehoods about the legislation, as documented below:
Three local lawmakers voted in favor of expanding gun rights in a way civil rights organizations say is racist and will lead to the deaths of more Black people.
But state Sen. Theresa Gavarone and state representatives DJ Swearingen and Dick Stein aren’t providing any explanation for why they support the “Stand Your Ground” provision in Senate Bill 175, which expands the definition of self-defense to include instances in which a person with a gun who feels threatened can chase down and kill another person.
Second Amendment writer Cam Edwards of Bearing Arms was quick to point out some of the flaws in Westerhold’s interpretation of the law. Edwards explained what SB 175 actually does:
SB 175 doesn’t establish a Stand Your Ground law, in other words, it simply simplifies and clarifies where gun owners are entitled to defend themselves without attempting to retreat beforehand. There’s simply nothing in the bill that would allow for a gun owner to chase down a suspect, because even under Stand Your Ground provisions gun owners must be responding to a threat against their own life or the life of another. There’s a reason why the provisions have been nicknamed Stand Your Ground and not Chase After Criminals.
To the point of stand your ground laws being racist, this could not be further from the truth. In his book, The War on Guns, researcher John Lott analyzed the impact of Stand Your Ground laws in states like Florida, where there exists a significant African American community.
Lott observed, “From 2005 through October 1, 2014, blacks made up 16.7 percent of Florida’s population and 34 percent of the defendants who invoked Stand Your Ground.” In addition, he noted that, “Black defendants who invoke [Stand Your Ground] are actually acquitted four percentage points more frequently than whites who use this very same defense.”
Ohio would be better served with stronger Stand Your Ground laws. Unfortunately, the Buckeye State has a governor who does not want to pass such legislation unless his pet gun control project is taken up – a truly pathetic scenario for a state that has firm Republican control of all branches of its state government.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at email@example.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.