Opening up our gun laws to “stand your ground” so that Ohioans have no duty to retreat and can kill each other whenever they feel under attack. Great. Perfect. Run with it.
That’s apparently the thinking of some Ohio Republicans.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
“We want to eliminate your duty to retreat when you are under threat of violent attack,” said (state) Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 180, which was introduced Tuesday. “It’s difficult to defend yourself when you are running away or your back is turned.”
Pending companion House and Senate bills also would expand the so-called Castle Doctrine, which allows people to act in self-defense, without retreating, when in their homes, cars or relatives’ cars. Under the new legislation, that would be changed to allow people to act in self-defense without retreating when also anywhere a person has a legal right to be, such as on a sidewalk or in a parking lot.
What about wanna-be vigilantes stalking kids armed with Skittles and Arizona tea through their neighborhood, like George Zimmerman did to Trayvon Martin? Legal right to stalk, provoke, and “stand ground” to kill? This doesn’t sound like it will end well; it obviously hasn’t before.
But wait! There’s more! From the Dispatch:
The bills also would shift the burden to prosecutors in self-defense cases to prove that criminal defendants did not act to defend themselves, others or their homes. Hottinger said Ohio is the only state in which people must prove they acted in self-defense in using deadly force.
The Republican-controlled House passed a wide-ranging, pro-gun bill in late 2013 that included stand-your-ground language, but the Senate removed the provision amid objections from prosecutors and police.
Ah, yes, but now the “law and order” party wants to make law enforcement and prosecutors’ jobs harder against their objections. Makes sense. Or maybe police and prosecutors have changed their minds?
The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio have not changed their positions.
“We think a person who has a safe way of avoiding a confrontation should take advantage of that rather than just stand there and blast away,” said John Murphy, executive director of the prosecutors group.
Murphy also said it is reasonable to require a defendant to prove a self-defense claim by a preponderance of evidence — a lesser standard than beyond reasonable doubt. Current laws have worked well with no evidence that prosecutors are improperly pursuing charges against people who properly act in self-defense.
And what of the police?
Michael Weinman, governmental affairs director for the FOP, said the organization continues to oppose stand-your-ground legislation.
“Even officers have a duty to de-escalate the situation before it gets to the point of using deadly force,” he said.
De-escalation, what a concept.