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Gun Control Advocates Worry 'Stand Your Ground' Will Make Ohio More Dangerous

Mourners gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press
Mourners gather for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.

Ohio's new "Stand Your Ground" law goes into effect Tuesday. The measure approved in December removes the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.

Gun control advocates say it will make Ohio a more dangerous place to live.

“As these kind of laws have gone into effect, it’s never good news. we don’t have fewer shootings or fewer deaths, they all increase,” says Toby Hoover, the founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

She points to Florida, where she says gun homicides increased by 32% after their "Stand Your Ground" went into effect in 2005.

Rob Sexton, with Buckeye Firearms, calls those statistics into question.

"I’ve seen some of the studies that claim that removal of duty to retreat causes more gun deaths, and I find the origin of them to already have an advocacy position of removal of the firearms industry," Sexton says.

Ohio expanded self-defense laws in 2008, but until now, people in public had to try to retreat before using deadly force. Hoover says the problem with the law is that removes that "duty to retreat."

“You were never expected by Ohio law not to defend yourself, that’s always been in there,” she says.

This change, Hoover says, removes the incentive to de-escalate.

“There’s a huge difference between somebody coming up and touching you or being in your space and threatening you with something, vs. ‘I’m afraid because I don’t like the looks of those people' or 'I don’t like what they’re doing and now they said something to me that makes me fearful,’ when it’s not really a dangerous situation," she says.

Sexton points out that this measure doesn't lower the standards of self-defense. He says the measure simply makes Ohio law uniform across the board, since the 2008 law known as the "castle doctrine" removed the duty to retreat in one's car or home.

"We’ve always felt that’s a grave inconsistency to say, 'Before you have your ability to defend yourself in some situations, you have to analyze avenues of retreat, but in other situations you don’t have that duty,'" he says.

Supporters of "Stand Your Ground," which passed the Ohio legislature with no Democratic votes, argue it allows people to defend themselves.

"My right to defend myself in the United States and in Ohio from serious bodily harm or death should be extended to anywhere I am lawfully allowed to be without a duty to retreat," said Republican state Rep. Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield), who proposed the measure.