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Gov. DeWine's Decision To Sign 'Stand Your Ground' Bill Drawing Sharp Criticism

guns on display in a gun store
Seth Perlman
Associated Press

Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision to sign the so-called "Stand Your Ground" gun bill into law isn’t sitting well with some city and state leaders who thought they were making headway in their fight against gun violence.

The governor signed the bill Monday after threatening a veto, and months of saying any new gun legislation should include his own proposals for toughening gun laws.

When DeWine proposed his own gun reform plan last year, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was one of the city leaders who stood beside him. The Democrat has been an outspoken advocate for gun reform since the mass shooting that killed nine people, an injured many more, in her city in 2019.

Whaley says the “Stand your Ground” bill will make communities less safe and disproportionately hurts African Americans.

“What’s really sad is I think the governor knows that and decided political expediency is more important," Whaley says.

Toby Hoover with the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence agrees. She says she thought DeWine was taking what she calls a more reasonable approach to gun rights.

“Then for him to turn around and do this is like the opposite, just because his own party is arguing with him about everything that he does," Hoover says.

DeWine's fellow Republican lawmakers, who pushed through "Stand Your Ground" during the lame-duck session, have not taken action on his gun reform plan – which includes measures like heightened penalties for violent offenders with firearms and strengthened background checks.

In recent weeks, there has also been some talk among Republicans, including President Donald Trump, that DeWine should face a primary in the next election – inspired in part by DeWine's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine points out he promised during his campaign that he would sign the "Stand Your Ground" bill into law if it came before him. But he says he is going to continue to push for the changes he's proposed in his plan as well because they could make Ohio safer.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.