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Leader Sykes calls for repeal of Ohio's "shoot first" law

Says no duty to retreat will make deadly confrontations more common
April 6, 2021
Democrat Newsroom

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today called on Statehouse leaders to repeal Ohio’s new no duty to retreat law, which passed in December 2020. Democratic-sponsored legislation, House Bill (HB) 38, would repeal the new shoot first law that takes effect Tuesday. 

“‘No duty to retreat’ legislation is incredibly harmful and dangerous especially to Black and Brown Ohioans,” said Leader Sykes. “There must be an equitable and thoughtful approach to gun safety and reducing violence in our communities so that Ohioans don’t have to live in fear of their lives. The use of deadly force is not the answer, which is why I support HB 38.”

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 2o2o, and the governor signed the bill into law even after suggesting he would veto the extreme legislation

A recent report found that shoot first laws may have led to an increase in total homicides and firearm homicides in states which have enacted them. 

During discussion of the bill 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.