Was Gov DeWine right to sign "stand your ground" bill?
- Mike DeWine has served as the 70th governor of Ohio since 2019. Previously he was attorney general for 8 years, as well as a prosecutor, senator, representative, and lieutenant governor.
- Monday, January 5, DeWine signed a “stand your ground” bill “eliminating the duty to retreat before firing in self-defense.” He mentioned the bill as essential for citizens to protect themselves, but lamented over an unsuccessful bill that would have made it more difficult for criminals to possess guns.
- There are self defense or Stand Your Ground laws in at least 25 states in the US, with 15 of them stating explicit language to “stand his or her ground.”
- Florida was the first state to establish a Stand Your Ground law under Governor Jeb Bush on October 1, 2005.
Governor DeWine was correct to sign the amended Stand Your Ground law in Ohio. This law codifies a person's right to self-defense and protects law-abiding citizens from law-breaking ones in the case of a violent confrontation. Citizens should have the right to protect and defend themselves when threatened in a place where they have a legal right to be. This law is particularly important to victims of stalkers or domestic abuse who may have very limited options to safeguard themselves.
The amended law DeWine signed eliminates the previous nonsensical 'duty to retreat' language, which provided an incentive for criminals to harm innocent victims. Moreover, by striking down 'duty to retreat,' Ohio joins 25 other states that have enacted similar laws. The principles embodied in the Ohio law have a long-standing historical foundation. Based on the 'Castle Doctrine,' the concept has been part of English Common Law for nearly 400 years; and the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of armed self-defense over 125 years ago.
'Stand your ground' laws in conjunction with concealed carry permits can serve as a deterrent to violent crime because they put criminals on notice that there may be fatal consequences for violent, illegal behavior. Citizens no longer need to cede their legal right to occupy public or private space to criminals who wish to harm them.
Finally, Ohio is one of 23 states to have a Republican governor and a Republican legislature in both the House and Senate. From a practical standpoint, Governor DeWine was right to sign the modified 'stand your ground' law as it clearly represents the will of the Ohio electorate.
2020 saw American gun violence increase significantly. Sadly, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is taking his state in the wrong direction by signing the Stand Your Ground bill. The problem with this bill is that it removes the duty to retreat from a prospective shooter. In other words, any person, in virtually any place, who feels threatened by an intruder or other aggressor, may shoot them without attempting to flee or deescalate the situation first. This is bad policy because it will lead to more gun violence, more misunderstandings, and ultimately won't work.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that removal of the duty to retreat increased gun deaths by 24.4%. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned laws create a 'shoot first' mentality. Allowing ordinary citizens to gun down their fellow citizens without repercussions puts too much duty on gun owners to make the right decision. It can be very difficult to assess whether a threat is potentially lethal in the heat of the moment, especially if the defendant is surprised, intoxicated, or woken suddenly. This has proven particularly acute in situations where the perceived threat is an African American. The Tampa Bay Tribune conducted a survey in Florida that found 72% of individuals who shot and killed African Americans faced no penalties, compared to 59% who killed White individuals.
Likewise, a 2014 American Bar Association study found these 'stand your ground' laws did not deter serious crime. Aside from increasing gun violence and harming communities of color, DeWine was wrong to sign this bill seeing as the intent simply doesn't play out.