It’s back — and there don’t appear to be many obstacles this time around to Republicans achieving a long-time goal of instituting a stand-your-ground law.
Removing the duty to retreat, if possible, before using a gun in self-defense in response to a threat of violence has been on the GOP’s legislative shopping list for years.
Ohioans, they argue, should be allowed to fire immediately at a would-be assailant to help avert the possibility of losing their life, or that of a loved one.
Stand-your-ground legislation passed the House by a 64-26 vote nearly a year ago, but was derailed in the Senate by then-Gov. John Kasich’s threat to kill the bill.
Lawmakers instead passed a bill shifting the burden of proof in self-defense shootings from the defendant to prosecutors and blocking local governments from enacting gun-control measures.
The Republican Kasich, incensed that lawmakers would not move on what he called moderate gun restrictions, vetoed the bill. Lawmakers then overrode the governor.
The stand-your-ground bill resurfaced in the House on Wednesday — with 24 GOP sponsors and co-sponsors — with a different man in the governor’s office.
Republican Mike DeWine generally supports a stand-your-ground law, even as he asks lawmakers to pass a gun-violence reduction package following the mass shooting deaths of nine people in Dayton.
Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, last year expressed hopes of revisiting the legislation and House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, speaks favorably of it as well.
“I’ve been for stand your ground,” Householder said Thursday. “I think it’s important for people to be able to protect themselves.
“Current Ohio law is that if someone confronts you, you are obligated to turn around and run away — and that’s not always safe for for people to turn around and run away,” the speaker said.
Asked if DeWine still supports a stand-your-ground law, press secretary Dan Tierney said the governor “has not changed his previous position,” but wants to examine the language of the new measure, House Bill 381.
The bill states a person who is not engaged in illegal activity “has no duty to retreat from any place where the person is lawfully present before using or threatening to use reasonable force, including deadly force.”
The legislation would prevent judges and juries from considering the possibility of retreat in determining if a person used force in self defense and reasonably believed it was necessary.
Laura Robertson-Boyd, of Columbus, a volunteer leader with the Ohio chapter of Moms Demand Action, said the group objects to removing the duty to retreat and avoid potential shootings.
“Doing stand your ground now is taking Ohio in the exact wrong direction when the consensus of the majority of Ohioans is we need to do more to prevent gun violence,” she said.
“By reintroducing the bill, it shows (lawmakers) are tone deaf to constituents who want stronger laws, such as ‘red flag’ and background checks. This would put more Ohioans at risk.”
DeWine’s gun-violence measure, Senate Bill 221 sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, was assigned this week to the Senate Government and Oversight Committee, but no hearings have yet been scheduled.
DeWine watered down his initial proposal, calling for universal background checks and a “red flag” law to remove guns from persons deemed dangerous, amid opposition from legislative Republicans. Instead, voluntary background checks on private sales and expanded use of the “pink slip” law to potentially separate unstable people from their guns were substituted.
The House also is expected to eventually approve a so-called “constitutional carry” bill that would allow law-abiding adults to carry a concealed handgun without obtaining firearms training or a permit.