Ohio Republicans are pushing to get their controversial “Stand Your Ground” bill passed out of a Senate committee by the end of the week, but opponents of the legislation are redoubling their efforts.
On Monday night, Ohio’s NAACP chapters called a press conference to voice their opposition to the bill, which they believe “will have a disparate impact on communities of color.”
“If the legislature opens the floodgates up with this type of law, that will have a disparate impact on communities of color,” Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward said, according to The Dayton Daily News.
“It’s about public safety, and if you’re African American, your life is at risk when it comes to Stand Your Ground because any citizen who is licensed to carry a weapon and you get into a confrontation, they can use force and say that they felt threatened,” said Joseph Mallory, vice president of Cincinnati’s NAACP chapter.
In a joint statement issued by the NAACP chapters, they claimed that the legislation would “justify the murder of innocent people, particularly innocent black people.”
Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police joined the NAACP in opposing the bill, which it believes would provide citizens little reason to deescalate tense or life-threatening situations. But the legislation has strong support in both the Ohio Senate and House, and overwhelmingly passed the House in November with a vote of 65-32.
The bill is now before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee, whose chairman supports the bill.
“People are going to continue to utilize techniques to deescalate a potentially violent situation but it’ll stop the second guessing in a court room later,” Chairman Sen. Bill Coley (R-West Chester) told WOSU Tuesday, and his committee has been conducting hearings all week.
Proponents of the bill, such as the Buckeye Firearms Association, argue that it would “clean up the law” surrounding a gun owner’s so-called “duty to retreat” in self-defense situations—a requirement that would be eliminated under House Bill 228.
Hearings continued on Tuesday evening and were open to the public. NBC 4 reports that dozens of opponents gathered in the hearing room in protest of the legislation, which they believe would “justify violence.”
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has indicated that he would veto the bill if it passes, but Republicans believe they have enough votes to override his veto. The Government Oversight and Reform Committee will conclude its hearings Thursday, and the full Senate could vote on the bill by week’s end.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 25 other states currently have similar laws in place. The NCSL explains that such bills extend the “castle doctrine,” which give citizens the right to “use reasonable force, including deadly force” in self-defense situations, from private homes to anywhere a person can be lawfully present.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Bill Coley” by Bill Coley. Photo “Ohio Congress Floor” by John Beagle.