COLUMBUS, Ohio – Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 175 into law Monday despite hubbub he may veto the act.
“I have always believed that it is vital that law-abiding citizens have the right to legally protect themselves when confronted with a life-threatening situation. While campaigning for Governor, I expressed my support for removing the ambiguity in Ohio’s self-defense law, and Senate Bill 175 accomplishes this goal. That is why I have signed this bill today,” DeWine said in a statement.
In the waning days of 2020, Ohio legislators passed Senate Bill 175 (SB175), a stand-your-ground act that began as a proposed law to grant civil immunity to churches and other nonprofits for “certain injuries, deaths, or losses resulting from the carrying of handguns.”
Amendments were added to “expand the location at which a person has no duty to retreat before using force under both civil and criminal law” from a residence or vehicle to anywhere a person can lawfully be. The change was met with the disapproval of Democrats who cosponsored the bill and a Republican cosponsor, Senator John Eckland – all of who removed their names.
Ultimately four Republican Senators voted against the bill – Matt Dolan (District 24), Peggy Lehner (District 6), John Eklund (District 18) and Stephanie Kunze (District 16). Lehner and Eklund were term-limited in 2020 and replaced by Niraj Antani (R-District 6) and Jerry Cirino (R-District 18). In the House, 33 representatives voted against the legislation – all the Democrats and Republican Stephen D. Hambley (R-Brunswick). Hambley termed out in 2020 – his replacement Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth).
DeWine signaled that he may veto SB175, instead touting the STRONG Ohio gun legislation and urging the lame duck legislature to pass it before taking up other gun bills.
During several COVID briefings the Governor conducted during 2020 he talked about STRONG Ohio, often highlighting headlines from newspapers around Ohio telling stories of deaths caused by felons illegally using guns. STRONG Ohio was drafted after a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.
DeWine demanded the legislature pass the bill in order to give felons more severe punishment for their crimes – and as he surmised, a stronger detriment to future gun violence. The Governor’s preferred bill is officially called Senate Bill 211.
DeWine did not announce his signing SB175 without redress. “I am very disappointed, however, that the legislature did not include in this bill the essential provisions that I proposed to make it harder for dangerous criminals to illegally possess and use guns.”
Perhaps putting his signature on SB175 was a fulfillment of his campaign commitment. Maybe the move reflects his reaction to sinking approval of 23% in the Republican party – or perchance it’s a matter of protection for law-abiding citizens.
Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati all recorded record homicide numbers in 2020, coupled by the fact that Ohio’s prison population is the lowest since 2005 (and DeWine let prisoners out early, purportedly a COVID mitigation strategy).
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Jack Windsor is Managing Editor and an Investigative Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an Investigative Reporter at WMFD-TV. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Gov. Mike DeWine Bill Signings” by Gov. Mike DeWine.