The Ohio legislature passed a bill this week that will expand protections for those who are forced to engage in armed self-defense to protect their lives or the lives of their family.
The provision removes the so-called “duty to retreat” from the state’s criminal codes and instead allows individuals to defend themselves with deadly force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence. The legislation expressly prohibits juries from considering whether the person could have retreated before using deadly force in self-defense.
Proponents of the bill argued that the state’s “castle doctrine” should be expanded to include anywhere a person is legally allowed to be.
“My right to defend myself from serious bodily harm or death does not change just because I am outside the walls of my home… inside or outside my car,” said Rep. Kyle Koehler, who introduced the proposal. “My right to defend myself from serious bodily harm or death should be extended to anywhere I am lawfully allowed to be.”
“My right to defend myself from serious bodily harm or death does not change just because I am outside the walls of my home… inside or outside my car. My right to defend myself from serious bodily harm or death should be extended to anywhere I am lawfully allowed to be.” https://t.co/VWx7Q7EMRE— Rep. Kyle Koehler (@repkoehler) December 5, 2020
SEE ALSO: Know When to Stand Your Ground and When You Have a Duty to Retreat (Part I – Stand Your Ground)
Koehler argued that Ohio’s criminal codes shouldn’t place the responsibility to retreat on a gun owner when faced with a person who has no regard for the law.
“If someone is bent on killing another individual, the laws we write on paper do not matter,” he said.
Opponents of the bill argue that it will encourage gun owners to shoot innocent people. Actress Elizabeth Banks took to Twitter to criticize the policy with a story from her childhood.
“Stand Your Ground is BS. We used to play hide and seek all over the neighborhood on summer nights. Intent was to play. We were kids but some of my cousins were big guys. There were a few easily-jumped fences in the neighborhood but also houses with no fences at all. A new neighbor moved onto our street. Apparently he mistook us hiding behind trees in his unfenced yard at 9pm for… burglars? Predators?” she said.
Banks claimed that one neighbor shot an arrow at the trespassing children. He didn’t hit them, but she believes her experience proves the dangers of the policy.
“All I can think about when people pretend Stand Your Ground is about anything other than permission to kill people are those moments when I myself stepped onto a neighbor’s property. Where is the evidence that Stand Your Ground does anything but endanger your neighbors, their dogs, their kids? It helps nobody but people who want justified reasons to use a deadly weapon,” she said.
Stand Your Ground is BS. We used to play hide and seek all over the neighborhood on summer nights. Intent was to play. We were kids but some of my cousins were big guys /1 https://t.co/zD3hOG4Tgt— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) December 18, 2020
The legislation now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. After the 2019 massacre in Dayton that left nine people dead, DeWine pushed for a number of gun control policies, including bolstering the background check system, toughening laws against people who possess guns illegally, and instituting confiscatory “red flag” laws.
None of DeWine’s reforms survived this legislative session, and while he hasn’t said whether he’d veto the new “stand your ground” provision, he has said publicly that the legislature should not move to expand gun rights this year.
At least 25 states do not require retreat before shooting in self-defense, according to a May research brief from the National Conference of State Legislatures.