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Brady Calls on Ohio Lawmakers to Oppose H.B. 381, A ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law That Threatens Public Safety and People of Color

Washington, D.C., June 10, 2020 - Today, Brady calls on the Ohio House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee to vote against H.B. 381, a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which would remove the responsibility from individuals acting in self-defense in public to respond to perceived threats in a proportional and reasonable manner. The bill would allow individuals to use lethal force in public spaces and remove a ‘duty to retreat,’ creating a clear threat to public safety. This bill would empower individuals to use lethal force even when these confrontations could end peacefully.

Stand Your Ground laws have been directly linked to higher incidents of gun homicide and gun violence in the states where they have been enacted. Charges that these bills help citizens protect themselves are dangerous and misguided. They merely create a justification for greater violence and, in public spaces, threaten the safety of their communities. Since 2015, 8,565 Ohioans have been killed by gun violence, including the nine people killed in August 2019 at the mass shooting in Dayton. Lawmakers should be looking for solutions to reduce violence, not legalize and condone the use of more.

Brady Senior Manager for State Policy Kelsey Rogers shared:

“Expanding ‘stand your ground’ in Ohio to include public spaces is a clear threat to public safety, removing reasonable standards that require individuals under threat to react or defend themselves in proportion to the situation. In short, it allows an individual to shoot first and ask questions later. This bill will make Ohio communities less safe and we have the data to prove it.

The results are in on Stand Your Ground laws: they do not reduce crime; they increase firearm homicide; and, they are overwhelmingly used to ‘justify’ the murder of a Black and Brown individuals by a white individual. These laws do not protect law-abiding citizens, they do the opposite. They make all of our communities less safe and actively threaten the lives of people of color. At this moment, when our nation is reflecting on the use of violence against Black Americans, it cannot go unstated that these laws are associated with a 281 percent greater likelihood that a white individual’s lethal use of force against a Black individual will be ruled ‘justified’ than if both parties were white.

Proponents of this bill argue that Ohio citizens need the lawful ability to defend themselves if threatened. That right exists already; but it does not include the right to kill with impunity; and, it does not supersede our collective responsibility to protect public safety.

Brady urges the Criminal Justice Committee to reject H.B. 381”

Brady Columbus Chapter Lead Julie Collins shared:

"H.B. 381 does not improve public safety. It does nothing to improve personal safety. Instead, it enacts policies that have been shown to increase violence and disproportionately harm people of color. In Florida, which enacted the nation’s first Stand Your Ground law, in cases where a Black person was shot and Stand Your Ground was invoked the killer went free four out of five times. These laws provide cover for implicit, systemic and structural biases that cost Black and Brown Americans their lives every day. H.B. 381 would not be different.

Laws should be enacted to protect citizens from harm. This bill would do the opposite. It will endanger the general public and disproportionately harm people of color. As an Ohioan, I ask the Criminal Justice Committee to examine policies that will reduce violence, not enshrine it. I ask them to vote ‘no’ on H.B. 381.”

About Stand Your Ground Laws:

Beginning with Florida in 2005, a number of states enacted Stand Your Ground laws which fundamentally altered the law of self-defense. Traditionally, the law of self-defense put a premium on protecting life; the law imposed on private citizens a duty to try, if possible, to retreat from a dangerous confrontation prior to deploying lethal force in self-defense (with a narrow exception for confrontations occurring in their homes under the ‘castle doctrine’). Stand Your Ground laws limit this duty to retreat even in contexts outside of the home.

These laws were crafted by ALEC and promoted by the NRA and the gun lobby in furtherance of the myth that guns increase public safety by reducing crime. These laws have emboldened racially-motivated vigilantism like the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. These laws undermine public safety and encourage reckless gun owners to believe that even if they could avoid a lethal confrontation, they can kill someone and later claim self-defense to avoid being held responsible for taking the lives of individuals — particularly people of color — they falsely perceive as a threat.

The dark reality of Stand Your Ground laws is clear:

  1. These laws do not reduce crime.
  2. These laws actually increase firearm homicide.
  3. They are more likely to be successfully used to “justify” the murder of a Black individual by a white individual.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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