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Dem lawmakers renew call for repeal of "shoot first" legislation as law to take effect April 6

Say no duty to retreat will make deadly confrontations more common
April 5, 2021
Democrat Newsroom

With Ohio’s new no duty to retreat law set to take effect Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) and Thomas West (D-Canton) today renewed their call to Statehouse leaders to pass House Bill (HB) 38, their legislation to repeal Ohio’s new “shoot first” law, which passed in December 2020.

“’Stand Your Ground law’ is actually a ‘make my day law’ and jeopardizes the life of every Ohioan,” said Rep. Miller. “Someone can now shoot – and kill – merely by professing they thought they were threatened.  Fender benders and parking lot standoffs are now ripe for gun violence. More troubling, this bill threatens every person of color in our state. We can do better – and we must.”

HB 38 would repeal the recently passed Shoot First law that permits the use of deadly force by individuals who believe their lives are endangered anywhere in the state. The measure was added as a last-minute amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 175 in December 2020, and the governor signed the bill into law even after suggesting he would veto such legislation. 

“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 killings of Black people and a double-digit increase in homicides. Ohioans came together and urged us to do something after the Dayton shooting. This is the furthest thing from doing something. In fact, it will lead to more—not less—gun violence,” said Rep. West.

A report published by the RAND Corporation and updated in April 2020 demonstrates that shoot first laws may have led to an increase in total homicides and firearm homicides in states which have enacted them. A 2016 study from Epidemiologic Reviews found the same correlation. 

During discussion on the House floor in late December, multiple Democratic lawmakers argued that the new law will disproportionately affect Black Ohioans and other communities of color. In the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a similar law on the books in Florida was invoked because the shooter claimed self-defense.

Ohio’s no duty to retreat law takes effect April 6. No hearings have been scheduled on HB 38 to date.