Ohio’s New “Stand Your Ground” Law


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By Alexa Glista, Staff Writer


On January 4, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a “stand your ground” bill into law, making Ohio the 36th state to pass this type of legislation. [1] The bill, SB175, removed the “duty to retreat” requirement, “in determining whether or not a person who used force in self-defense, defense of another, or defense of that person’s residence reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent injury, loss, or risk to life or safety.” [2] The bill went into effect April 6th, 2021. [3]

Under previous Ohio law, the use of force was only justified in self-defense when: the person using self-defense was not the aggressor, there was an imminent threat of death, there was a not a reasonable means of retreat, and the use of such force was reasonable. [4] Ohio also had the “castle doctrine”, where a person does not have the duty to retreat and may use force against anyone who unlawfully enters their residence or vehicle. [5]

The new law expanded the castle doctrine, in that there is no duty to retreat from and attacker in any place where one is lawfully present, so long as you are not the aggressor and if it is under the reasonable belief that the use of force is in defense of life. [6] In the past when someone used force in self-defense, it was their burden to prove they were justified in court; however, now due to a law passed in 2019, the burden is now on the state to prove that the use of force was not in self-defense. [7]

This new law has may Ohioan’s divided and is a hotly debated topic. While some are seeing it as important for their safety, others are concerned about an increase in gun violence [8] Eric Delbert, owner of LEPD Firearms and Range and a central Ohio police officer argues, “It’s going to help Ohioans better protect themselves without first having to retreat.” [9] On the other hand, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther argues, “Stand Your Ground, which is reckless public policy that’s going to make it more dangerous for people in this community.” [10]

While the “Stand Your Ground” bill has been a priority for gun rights groups in Ohio, gun control advocates had previously urged Gov. DeWine to veto the bill.  Gov. DeWine himself, seemed to be in conflict with the bill as well. [11] In 2019 after the mass shooting in Dayton, Gov. DeWine had urged lawmakers to set “Stand Your Ground” aside and focus on “common sense” gun reforms. [12] Gov. DeWine proposed to, “raise penalties against violent offenders caught with guns, expand the ability for courts to confiscate firearms, and improve the state’s background check process.” [13] However, the bill faltered in committee, but Gov. DeWine still suggested in December of 2020 that he might veto “Stand Your Ground.” [14] Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley expressed his disappointment for Gov. DeWine signing the bill, and criticized him further by writing, “Gov. DeWine came to our city and stood on stage for a vigil for our murdered friends and neighbors, and then told us he stood with our community in our fight against gun violence. Now it seems he does not.” [15]



[1] https://grahamlpa.com/2021/01/14/ohio-stand-your-ground-law/

[2] https://search-prod.lis.state.oh.us/solarapi/v1/general_assembly_133/bills/sb175/EN/06?format=pdf

[3] https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/state/expanded-stand-your-ground-law-taking-effect-april-6-places-burden-on-state-to-disprove-self-defense

[4] https://grahamlpa.com/2021/01/14/ohio-stand-your-ground-law/

[5] Id.

[6] https://fox8.com/news/ohios-stand-your-ground-law-now-in-effect-heres-what-it-means/

[7] https://grahamlpa.com/2021/01/14/ohio-stand-your-ground-law/

[8] https://www.nbc4i.com/news/state-news/ohios-stand-your-ground-law-continues-to-stir-controversy-on-both-sides/

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] https://www.npr.org/2021/01/04/953405793/ohio-governor-signs-stand-your-ground-law-after-suggesting-hed-veto-it

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] https://www.npr.org/2021/01/04/953405793/ohio-governor-signs-stand-your-ground-law-after-suggesting-hed-veto-it

[15] Id.

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