by J.D. Davidson
Ohio Democrats continue to criticize the state’s new stand your ground law and unveiled a package of gun control legislation Monday that goes further than a proposal from Gov. Mike DeWine that has seen no movement in nearly two years.
Monday’s call comes 20 months since a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, and less than a week after another one in Indianapolis. It also comes nearly two weeks after a law that removes the duty to retreat from Ohioans to defend themselves with deadly force went into effect.
“Ohioans have spoken loudly and clearly that we need to do something to end gun violence. Democrats are listening to you, the people of Ohio who overwhelmingly support commonsense solutions to keep our kids and communities safe,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said Monday at a news conference. “In the 20 months since Dayton, shootings have gone up, not down. We need reform now to ensure the promise of safety and security for all Ohioans.”
The Democrats’ gun control plan includes a repeal of stand your ground, along with universal background checks on all gun purchases, extreme risk protection orders, safe and secure storage of firearms in homes with minors and allowing communities to decide their own gun control laws.
The House and Senate have filled their upcoming calendars with hearings related to the state budget, which must be balanced and signed by DeWine by July 1.
Part of the Democrats plan, House Bill 38, repeals the “no duty to retreat law.” It sits in the House State and Local Government Committee and isn’t on the schedule for a hearing.
“Shoot first is dangerous legislation that makes us all less safe. This same law in other states has led to an increase in legally-justified kills of Black people and a double-digit increase in homicides,” Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton, said.
DeWine signed the stand your ground legislation in early January after signaling he might veto it and following calls from Ohio prosecutors to do so. Instead, it became law earlier this month.
The law changes what is known as the Castle Doctrine and allows for a person to defend themselves without the duty to retreat “if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has the right to be.”
Proponents said the changes were necessary to protect churches and other organizations and to reaffirm constitutional rights.
“This legislation will advance important protections for churches, synagogues, mosques and all other charitable organizations in our state, as well as protect Ohioans’ Constitutional right to defend themselves from harm,” Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said at the time of DeWine’s signing.
DeWine proposed his own gun control plan after a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that saw nine people killed and 17 more wounded when Connor Betts began shooting near the entrance of the Ned Peppers Bar in the city’s Oregon District.
DeWine’s proposal called for prohibiting gun possession for those under a safety order and background checks on all firearm sales, with limited exception, such as gifts between family members. His proposal also included increased penalties for felons who possess guns, committing a felony while in possession of gun, brandishing a gun, for illegally obtained guns and more funding to secure schools and soft targets.
None of DeWine’s potential legislation has received any movement in the Ohio House or Senate.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Mike DeWine” by Vivien McClain Photography CC 2.0.