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Dem lawmakers introduce legislation to repeal dangerous Shoot First law

Bill would return the duty to retreat, avoid escalating gun violence
January 21, 2021
Democratic Newsroom

State Reps. Adam C. Miller (D-Columbus) and Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced the introduction of legislation that 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 law was tucked in as a last minute amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 175 during the lame duck period of the 133rd General Assembly despite passionate opposition from House Democrats. The governor then chose to sign this bill into law, even after professing concerns about gun violence in Ohio.  

“The ‘Stand Your Ground law’ is actually a ‘make my day law’ and jeopardizes the life of every Ohioan,” said 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.”

“One of our most important responsibilities as elected officials is to ensure the safety and security of those we serve, those who sent us to Columbus,” said West. “This law did the opposite – quite simply, its passage made us less safe, especially Black Ohioans and other Ohioans of color. When the people of Dayton and others across our state issued us a call to ‘do something’ following the horrific tragedy in that city, this is not at all what they meant. We hope our colleagues will join us in restoring our neighbors’ safety by repealing this dangerous law.”

A report published by the RAND Corporation and updated in April 2020 demonstrates that these 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 Black lawmakers also argued that the new law will disproportionately affect Black Ohioans and other communities of color, to no avail. 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.

The legislation now awaits referral to a House committee for further hearings.