On Wednesday, commissioners in the city of Dayton, Ohio, took a stand against the hotly-debated ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, passing a resolution opposing a bill that would bring the self-defense law that removes one’s duty to retreat and allows one to use force, including deadly force, in any place he/she has a lawful right to be to the Buckeye State.
Currently, Ohioans have an expanded version of the Castle Doctrine, which removes one’s duty to retreat and allows one to use deadly force in one’s home or “castle” as well as inside their vehicle — but not in public.
It is true though that under existing law a responsible concealed carry permit holder can use deadly force in public. However, he/she must demonstrate that safe retreat was not possible at the time of shooting.
In essence, House Bill 203 would amend state law to expand one’s natural right of self-defense and provide further protection from civil prosecution for the gun owner in cases where the shooting was justified.
HB 203 mirrors Florida’s version of the law, which states:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
After discussing the law, Dayton city commissioners — all democrats — voted unanimously to pass the resolution opposing HB 203, a way to send a message to the governor and the state Legislature that Ohio’s sixth largest city does not want SYG.
“We have to take a stance when you look at the work we’ve put him in the city in an effort to try and reduce gun violence this kind of flies in the face of it,” City Commissioner Joey Williams told local news affiliate ABC 22.
“We are the first city to do this resolution and I will not be surprised if other cities join in,” added Williams.
Indeed. Dayton is the first city in the state to pass a resolution opposing the law. Yet, since it’s state lawmakers who actually make the laws and not Dayton city commissioners, the resolution is nothing more than a symbolic gesture. H.B. 203 is currently being reviewed by a House committee.
Nevertheless, the commissioners were proud to take a stance against the law, which grabbed headlines after George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in February of 2012.
“You’re working as hard as you can Commissioner Williams as we all are here on commission to reduce gun violence why give people a legal way to kill,” said Commissioner Matt Joseph.
But praise for the resolution was not limited to those who voted on it, community leaders and the police chief also lauded the commission for its outspokenness.
“This is a dangerous law,” said Bishop Richard Cox of the S.C.L.C. “It’s a law that will affect every African-American male in this city and I’m glad you’re sending a message to Gov. Kasich and the legislators.”
“One of the fundamental rights is a right to life,” explained Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl.
“Do we really want to encourage situations where someone who is In position to take a life could remove themselves but instead stands their ground and ultimately take someone’s life is that really what we want?”
One quick thought
Guns.com has pointed out numerous times in the past that those who oppose Stand Your Ground laws generally don’t understand the nuances of the law. To give one an example, the operative word in the statute is “reasonable” — as in what would a reasonable person do given the circumstances. Opponents of the law seem to forget this very important aspect.
To put it another way, despite what critics say, Stand Your Ground is not a “kill at will” or a “shoot first” law that encourages vigilantism, rather it is a law to protect law-abiding citizens when they act reasonably under life-threatening circumstances. That’s all it does.
For a better, more in-depth explanation, check out this video here: