Today, the Ohio Senate is holding its third hearing on “Stand Your Ground” legislation – a bill that would upend traditional self-defense law in Ohio and allow a person to shoot to kill in public, even when there is a clear and safe alternative. This is the same policy that made headlines in Florida for letting killers with histories of violence avoid murder charges. A Tampa Bay Times analysis of Stand Your Ground cases showed that it has been “those with records of crime and violence — who have benefited most from the controversial legislation.”
The Ohio Senate is moving forward on this bill despite research that shows Stand Your Ground laws are associated with an increase in firearm homicides and injuries, and do not deter crime. In fact, at least 30 people nationwide are killed each month as a result of Stand Your Ground laws. In 2012, the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin brought national attention to Florida’s dangerous Stand Your Ground law. The case made headlines again last week. Although the shooter did not invoke a Stand Your Ground defense during his trial in this case, coverage of the shooting frequently included discussion of the law and Stand Your Ground was discussed among jurors during the case before rendering their not-guilty verdict.
There are stories from across the country of Stand Your Ground laws leading to escalated violence and ending in a gun death in situations that could have been otherwise defused.
One heartbreaking example from Arizona:
An Arizona driver got into a shouting match with a man who was walking his dog across the parking lot of a Taco Bell. The driver was upset because the pedestrian absentmindedly walked in front of his car, causing him to brake abruptly. After yelling obscenities at the driver, the dog owner moved to the driver’s side door with what the driver thought was a bat. Though nothing hit the driver or the car, the driver shot the dog owner. The dog owner, who was mentally disabled, died holding his dog’s green leash in his hand.
For more research on Stand Your Ground laws, you can access Everytown’s factsheet here. Additionally, RAND Corporation released a follow-up to their Gun Policy in America research initiative reinforcing many of its findings that Stand Your Ground laws “may be causing more harm than good.”
Volunteers with Ohio Moms Demand Action have attended every hearing and have been actively opposing this on the ground, and are available to speak with media.